Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.
Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.
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Words, words… there are words to describe how this book made me feel, I just have to find them. Ever since reading Looking For Alibrandi about 10 years ago (incidentally, the first novel I ever read in one sitting) I have wanted to read Marchetta’s other two young adult novels. For some reason I never did. But Jellicoe Road has been mentioned with increasing frequency on Booktube this year and I’ve been craving some well written YA lately… one thing lead to another and here we are.
So those words I mentioned before? Here goes. Sometimes you read a book and you see yourself in the main character, but then you realise you’re seeing who you want to be. You wish you were as strong as X, as beautiful as Y or could use a bow and arrow as well as Z. And then there are times, usually few and far between, when you really see yourself in the main character. Having that kind of identification with a fictional character means that you’re invested in the story immediately and, you know, the amazing writing, fantastic supporting characters and perfect suburban Australian setting didn’t hurt either.
This book is all about relationships and it does it so well. It does humour and it does drama and it does cliche teenage girls dancing around their cabin at camp. It does it all perfectly. I’m a big fan of the little scenes and jokes that run through the story, like love interest Will’s grandmother stealing Francesca’s grandmother’s biscuit recipe, or the infamous rugby game. And I never knew that a scene in which the main character’s mum picking them up from school could make me cry.