Reading Level: ages 13 and up
Summary: 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 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 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.
My (short) Review: I got this from the library, thinking it would just be another silly teen novel. Not so, this is an actual fine piece of literature.
It's one of the few character driven books I really liked, and oh what characters. Not a single one was a cardboard cut-out, they were all extremely well developed, and their unfolding relationship as the book goes on is deep, realistic, and most of all interesting. There are very few cliches, and the relationship between mother and daughter that's explored is sad and beautiful.
I think Melina Marchetta is a fabulous author and if the rest of her books are like this one I will definitely have to pick them up.