The Holy Terror's Reviews > Saving Francesca

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
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This book made me remember why I tend to only read fantasy: everyday life is just so ... tedious. I realize that I am in a very tiny minority when it comes to disliking this book, and it always makes me feel like I'm missing something when I don't like a book or series lauded as incredible. I have to wonder if perhaps this type of book just isn't for me though, and that because of the way I grew up and the environment I was raised in I just won't ever be able to relate to something like this.

For most of this book I felt bored and disconnected. I couldn't empathize with any of the characters and I didn't really like Francesca. I thought she was a spineless brat for most of the book, and I understood why nobody really liked her in the beginning.

Francesca is dealing with her mother's depression and also with starting a new school year at a recently female integrated all boys school. On the subject of depression; I had a particularly hard time relating to the struggle Francesca goes through with her family. Not to get all "after school special" up in here, but I have personally dealt with depression. Stemming from an injury/illness/medication, I've been through those days where I'd lay in bed and wonder what's the point of getting up. I'd sleep for 10 to 12 hours and then just stare at the ceiling for another hour or two. I wouldn't shower, I wouldn't eat, and I dropped my classes at school. I didn't even feel like reading, and that's when I realized I really had a problem.

That's the thing though, I realized I had a problem and I worked to fix it. I know every person is different, but I didn't appreciate the fact that Francesca's mother only starts to get better when her family decides to give a damn. (view spoiler) Now, I'm not ignorant and I know depression can sometimes be sudden, especially after trauma, but that doesn't mean I understand or can relate to it. I believe that people find strength from within and use their support group to bolster their reserves, not the other way around, so this whole plot point just didn't sit well with me.

Francesca's new school life had such a soap opera-like feel to it; the catty girls, the awkward and dickhead boys, the mean teachers - it just all felt so contrived. I will never in my life understand why people put up with bitchy girls and bullies. This is probably a product of the environment I grew up in though, since I actually loved school and didn't have major problems with anyone. This whole book centers around the concept of self and fitting in and the like, and it was just another instance of me not "getting" it. Francesca is constantly looking for acceptance and I felt like the message here was the same one that was being implied in regards to her mother's condition; that you need other people in order to be happy.

On top of all of this we're forced to tag along with Francesca throughout her day. We get to sit with her through meals, walk with her through the halls of her school, go to class, eat lunch in the cafeteria, ride the bus. There's a time to imbue realness into a story, and then there's a time to dial it back. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not interested in reading about the daily minutiae of a teenager's life.

Another thing that bothered me were all the pop-culture references. It wasn't just that they were dated, but that they were so obscure and random that it made me think that Marchetta was just trying to up her credibility with teenagers, but by doing so she actually made it woefully clear that she's out of touch. At the time this book was written, 2003, I was only about 4 years older than the characters so I remember what was popular back then. It definitely wasn't discmans and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. I realize that this is set in Australia, and if it's anything like Canada, it's quite possible that something old in the United States is new there. I don't think they're 10 years behind though.

This whole book was just too melodramatic and unbelievable for me to really enjoy. I think it takes a really special piece of realistic fiction to draw me in though, so I'm not entirely surprised that I didn't like this. I can see the appeal, but it's just not for me. I know she also writes fantasy, so I'm going to give Finnikin of the Rock a chance, and hopefully then I'll get to experience what everyone else does when they read her books.
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Reading Progress

06/29/2011 page 0
06/29/2011 page 11
5.0% "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure? Discmans? What year was this book written in? ::flips to look:: 2003? I'm confused."
06/29/2011 page 13
5.0% ""My theory is to lay low, and my reluctance to get involved has nothing to do with fear or shyness, contrary to popular perception. I have this belief that people hate change and, more than anything, they hate those who try to change things." Yeah, I already don't like this girl. How spineless. (But I bet she grows a backbone somewhere down the road ... probably because of someone else pushing her, most likely a boy)" 5 comments
06/29/2011 page 47
19.0% "This book is boring. Why did I decide to read it?" 2 comments
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Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I should get around to reading this... I've only heard good things about this book!

The Holy Terror Yeah, too bad it's not living up to the hype. :/

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh noooez! That's upsetting.

message 4: by The Flooze (new)

The Flooze Two. Ouch.

The Holy Terror Yeah, it was boring.

message 6: by Eve (new) - added it

Eve Davids I should probably remove this from my list then. If there's one thing I cant stand its reading about the minute details of school life of any teenager.

The Holy Terror I hear her other books are better, it might be worth it to try something different than this one to start with at least.

But yeah, I wouldn't recommend this book.

message 8: by Cory (new)

Cory I can't really get into this either. Or Jellicoe. Or The Piper's Son. I liked her debut 100x more.

The Holy Terror I took that one out from the library, but I'm not sure I'm going to read it before it's due back. What's funny is Looking for Alibrandi has the lowest average review score of all of her books, so it's quite possible, seeing as I'm from backwardsville, that I might like that one better as well.

Wendy Darling I'm reading this now, HT, and it's verrry slow so far. I'm hoping it gets more engaging soon...I'm sorry this was a meh read for you. :/

message 11: by The Holy Terror (last edited Jul 12, 2011 05:06PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

The Holy Terror Yeah, it's ok. I'm really curious to see how you feel when you're done though. I can understand people liking this book, but I can't understand loving it. A 5 star book for me has to be like a rainbow puppy pie with sprinkles. This was more like ... oatmeal. Plain oatmeal.

Wendy Darling I fear being hunted down and roasted alive if I dislike it! The love for this author is overwhelming.

The Holy Terror Eh, don't be afraid to be honest. And I'll keep some marshmallows handy, just in case ; )

Wendy Darling I ended up liking the sequel a lot better, THT. This one was just too much of a downer for me.

The Holy Terror I saw. I'm not sure if I care enough about the characters to read the sequel though.

Wendy Darling Can't say I really blame you. I can't even muster up enough interest to write a review of this one...I might just refer people to yours. ;)

The Holy Terror Lol, thanks. I wasn't planning on bothering with one either, then I started typing it out ... and ended up having a lot more to say than I thought I did.

message 18: by Cory (new)

Cory I liked her debut, but like you, I can't get into this. I can't even muster up the effort to finish it.

The Holy Terror I had people who liked this one tell me that Alibrandi wasn't very good, but I'm guess I (like you) just won't agree with the majority of her fans. I had three different friends post positive reviews for this one today so I wanted to update mine to give people a different opinion ... :3

I also just started Finnikin of the Rock last night, and so far, it seems ... a lot more promising.

Bonnie I had a very hard time with this one as well... I actually gave up and have yet to go back.

message 21: by M. (new) - rated it 1 star

M. I've only read about 20% of this book but I have a feeling that if I were to finish it (which I won't) my review would probably look like yours. I didn't like Francesca. Period. I thought she was a pushover, had no personality and I just couldn't connect to her character or respect her.

Rebecca you're right. This book is tedious.

Sophia. Oh my God, I found my new favorite review EVER. Thanks THT. :)

message 24: by Zehra (last edited Mar 13, 2013 08:38AM) (new)

Zehra "I felt like the message here was the same one that was being implied in regards to her mother's condition; that you need other people in order to be happy."

Isn't that true, to some extent? Don't you need to feel at least a little bit loved, to be happy?

message 25: by Liz (new)

Liz Oh, wow! I must say I am quite delighted to find somebody who doesn't really get Marchetta's books either.
I don't think I'll read this book after your review, I was indecisive anyway, but your review made the difference.
Thank you very much for the honest & amazing review!! :) *thumbs up*

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