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Looking for Alibrandi

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  21,577 ratings  ·  1,556 reviews
For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.

Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the nononsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys
Paperback, 313 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published October 5th 1992)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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this book is like a dragon egg. it is somewhat unusual compared to others of its kind, and it is pretty, but you know that when it hatches it is going to let loose some magnificent beast beyond human reckoning.

marchetta is a magnificent dragon.

and this book is good, and you can see the beginnings of what she will become, but it is definitely a first novel, before she understood her own power.

i reluctantly love josie alibrandi (although we are not friends, so i must call her josephine) she is a c
Aj the Ravenous Reader

“Things don’t turn out the way you want them to. And sometimes, when they don’t, they can turn out just a little bit better.”

If anyone would ask me what makes up the best YA contemporary novel, I’d simply say, “Read Looking for Alibrandi." It makes me appreciate that I’ve read this just now because had I read it years ago, the rest of these YA contemporaries would have probably been a little letdown.

To tell you honestly, nothing about the plot is too complex to make it special. It’s basical
Jun 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, 2010, 2012, 2016, aus-nz
Update 6/13/2016. Love Josie and her big mouth.

Update 3/24/2012I feel like Josie and Jacob grow up to be Francesca's parents.

Original 2010 review
Enjoyed Melina Marchetta's debut novel very much, even though it was not as strong and heartbreaking as her Printz-winning Jellicoe Road.

Looking for Alibrandi is a simple coming-of-age story (oh, how I hate this expression!). Josephine is a 17-year old Australian of Italian descend. She is in her last year of school and it's a time in her life when sh
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who reads YA
When I was in school, we routinely had to complete projects about our heritage. People asked (and still ask) “what are you?” meaning what is your nationality. A lot of these projects ended up with discussions about why third or fourth generation Americans still call themselves Irish, Italian, Korean, Filipino, Greek, etc. instead of saying they are American first. My blood is pretty watered down at this point—Irish, Swedish, German, Spanish…but it really doesn’t matter. I’m sure kids in other pr ...more
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
5 "Cloaked by Reminiscence" Stars.


The seventeen Janis Ian sang about where one learns the truth. But what she failed to mention is hat you keep learning truths after seventeen, and I want to keep on learning truths till I die.

Oh yes, again.

Melina Marchetta, I'm telling you, people are going to think I write repetitive reviews for your books because I'm in a severe dearth of adjectives now.

Amazing ?

Lovely ?

Beautiful ?

I ended up in the thesaurus looking for synonyms but we
The first Marchetta. The only one I hadn't read. It was as precious to me as a last born in Charyn and I kept it hidden away for as long as I could. And then Carla declared that it was time to break the emergency glass on this book.

Josephine Alibrandi had me from the beginning. I knew I was dealing with a kindred spirit when on page 5 she says,
"Believe me, I could write a book about problems. Yet my mother says that as long as we have a roof over our head we have nothing to worry about. Her naiv
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
So it seems Melina Marchetta’s modern classic, Looking for Alibrandi, which has been studied in high schools across Australia, has escaped my attention until now. With the exception of the film version that I watched when it was released back in 2000. The opportunity to participate in a read along of this novel with a bookworm friend finally allowed me to discover the work of well-known Australian novelist Melina Marchetta.

The vivacious and perceptive narrat
May 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I knew it. I just knew that my complete love for Melina Marchetta was clouded only by her 3rd person POV. And this book is the proof that I was right! I'm relieved I got that out of my system.

I loved this book. Loved it. It's up there with Saving Francesca and Jellicoe Road. But possibly, I loved this book even more than the others. Now I'm going to tell you why.

In 1956, my grand-uncle was 16 when he kissed his mum and dad goodbye, jumped on a boat and took off for Australia in search of fortun
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: most-loved
Oh goodness, this book! I had it marked as read, but having finished it, I can confirm I actually haven't read it before - I'm usually very good at keeping track at what I've read, even without Goodreads, but I think this book got muddled in my head with another one because nothing felt familiar. Weirdly, I also thought I'd seen the film, but looking up the trailer, I'm almost certain I haven't, so now I'm trying to work out just what it was that I'd confused this story with!

So, I began this re-
Read in high school. Remember the movie - Matthew Newton?! Story of my life really. Shabby memory. My daughter has read, so I need to re-read this Aussie classic. She has a new one out, too. What am I waiting for? Too many books..
Jülie ☼♄ 
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone esp. Teens.
Loved it!

Quotes I like from this book:

"It's an embarrassing contradiction when your mother gets pregnant out of wedlock because her Catholic upbringing prohibits contraception."

Lovable yet complex characters reveal a good portrait of the culture of 1950's Australia.

Australia was still so young and naive .... so ignorant and brash, like a pubescent teenager fumbling towards a maturity it doesn't yet comprehend.
The influx of immigrants bringing with them a confusion of fascination and fear. Thei
Sue (Hollywood News Source)
“You know something, Jacob, I'd hate to be as smart as John. I mean he was really, really smart, and to be that smart means you know all the answers, and when you know all the answers there's no room for dreaming.”

To me, there are three different kinds of books, one where the book is simply unsatisfactory. Second where it is only appropriate for its certain era. And third where I just knew this book has made a lasting impression on me.

Looking for Alibrandi falls to the third category. From
Jun 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Looking for Alibrandi is Melina Marchetta’s debut – and after the emotional rollercoaster that were Saving Francesca, Jellicoe Road and The Piper’s Son, I have to admit that I am a little underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, compared to a lot of other debuts, this one is still excellent, but on the Melina-Marchetta scale it is probably my least favourite (This sounds bad here, but except Finnikin, all her other novels are among my absolute all-time favourites).

Why? Simply because it didn’t tug on
Aly (Fantasy4eva)
I'm good at the reviewing part. The thoughts come and I just jot them down, but damn I must have tried to write this one for at least 3 times now. And frankly I'm getting pissed off. So let me try this one more time.

It's the weakest Marchetta novel I've read to date. It doesn't pull on your heart-strings. And whereas her books are so character driven, I felt no connection to any character this time around (apart perhaps a little to John.) I did find how Josie dealt with not feeling accepted and
I loved this, and reading it shortly after reading The Getting of Wisdom and Behind the Sun made an interesting contrast.

Josephine Alibrandi is telling her own story at the age of 18 about her last year of high school, her background, and her pals. She’s an out-of-place wog on scholarship who has a few good friends amid the snobs.

The Getting of Wisdom is a story told by Laura, describing her early years at a private school, her background, and her pals in the late 1800s. She’s an impoverishe
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

I have nothing new to say about Looking for Alibrandi; my review is just going to be an echo of everyone else’s thoughts. I don’t know why I took such a prolonged time to start reading Melina Marchetta novels, but I certainly regret that I didn’t start sooner. In fact, I probably should have listened to my mum when she recommended it to me last year--it was the first book she ever read in English when she first came to Australia. She is still in love with it
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I think it would be an understatement to say I loved this book. Although Looking for Alibrandi is by no means my favorite Marchetta novel, it's definitely tied with The Piper's Son for third. (In case you were wondering, Saving Francesca is my favorite followed closely by Jellicoe Road. ) In many ways, I feel as if Looking for Alibrandi is Marchetta's most personal novel - I felt as if I could feel parts of her within it. Although authors pour a part of their soul into every work of fic ...more
Sep 13, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-star
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was scared that I waited too long to read Marchetta’s other works, but as it turns out I still enjoy YA books, if they are well written. 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4, because this is a debut novel, with some unpolished parts, but for me it’s still way better than ~80% of what YA has to offer.

There are already plenty of great, detailed reviews, so I’ll keep mine brief. Looking for Alibrandi is a girl’s coming-of-age story. It’s about all the typical themes of teenage years: friendship, first lo
Dec 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
In spite of my reservations I actually really enjoyed reading this book, although I couldn't help feeling that I probably should have read it in my teens. Except that it wasn't written when I was a teenager!!!! I loved Josephine and I enjoyed her spunk and thought she was very funny and clever. I also enjoyed seeing her relationship with both her Nonna and her father evolve. Although initially I thought that this might just be a teen book I realised that it was so much more with very serious the ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
“I’ll run one day. Run for my life. To be free and think for myself. Not as an Australian and not as an Italian and not as an in-between. I’ll run to be emancipated. If my society will let me.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
I honestly think the world will stop turning the day I read a MM book I do not like.

High Points.
Strong females. Josie. Nuns. Religion. Family. The past. Jacob. The future. FBA. Identity. Culture. Fast food first jobs. Stories. Catching me off guard with the sadness (which I
Reread: April 2021

"I've been passionate about two things in my life. One was Christina Alibrandi. The other is Josephine Alibrandi."

Reread: April 2018

If you have been following me on Twitter and Instagram then you'd know that I recently went to Sydney and found old covers of Alibrandi (and bought them, obvs).

Reread this one on the plane home and the setting totally came to life for me now that I know how Sydney looked like.


Reread: Jan 2018

[Frankie Spinelli voice] Oh my
Siiri (Little Pieces of Imagination)
26 sticky notes, countles teary moments and quite a few laughs later I can say that even Marchetta's debut is brilliant and magical just as her work published after Alibrandi. This book highlights perfectly, with an authentic voice, how it feels to be an immigrant. There are so many notions and remarks about politics, cultural differences, general truths of life and more that fit well to describe life now when after almost a quarter of a century has passed.


I'd recommend Looking for Alibrandi for
Dec 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Arlene by: TBR Reduction Challenge #5 - Nomes
Rating Clarification: 4.5 Stars

I only wish we could have been the best or the worst in the class. Not just somewhere in between… Purgatory... I hate it so much that when I die, and if God sends me there, I’ll beg him to send me to hell instead.

What can I say about Melina Marchetta that I haven’t said before? I love her character driven novels, I wish I could meet each and everyone one of them, and if I could define novel honesty fused with passion, I’d stamp a Marchetta book cover as an example.
Feb 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-liked
I think if I had read Looking for Alibrandi first, I would have given it five stars. Of course, then Goodreads would have had to come up with an additional star rating for her other books! Melina Marchetta works her trademark magic in her very first book, holding onto you until the very last page. Looking for Alibrandi has all the components of an amazing young adult book - emotionally gripping, introspective and witty. But somehow, it lacks the punch her later books have. It doesn't grab you by ...more
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, audio, read-in-2011
I can definitely see why this novel won a whole bunch of awards. There's a lot of layers to this book, just like all of the other Marchetta novels I've read. This is the story of a girl dealing with all of the complexities of having two nationalities, while not really fitting in to either one. It's also about three generations of Italian women who broke the rules. Throw in a coming of age story with first love and all of that good stuff, and you still don't have half of what this book is about. ...more
Aug 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
All through the reading of this book, I felt like the author hadn't been able to decide quite what she was writing; is this a teen's journal or is it a first-person narration book? Every chapter seemed to address some subject of the main character's life, and mostly they seemed really disconnected. I didn't think the writing was smooth at all, though it wasn't because it was trying to imitate a teen's voice. I liked some of the concepts, but overall it just seemed like there was a pattern of "st ...more
Trigger warnings: suicide, depression, some seriously controlling bullshit in romantic relationships, discrimination against ethnic minorities.

Last time I read this, I was kind of meh about it. Gave it three stars, despite all the love I'd had for it as a teenager. But five years on, I think for me this has reached classic status. It's definitely dated. There are some pretty misogynistic attitudes. The mental health side of things is...not particularly well handled? But I just love this
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Melina Marchetta and of young-adult contemporary fiction
Recommended to Milly by: Street Corner bookers
**Audible Review**
Aussie Reading Challenge #5

I was initially hesitant to read Looking for Alibrandi in the audible version because I was fearful I would miss all of Merlina Marchetta’s noteworthy and notable quotes. I’ve read 3 of her books and there were definitely several quotable lines in each one so I was sure this was no different. But, it was there staring at me at the library’s book shelf waiting for me to take it home. How could anyone resist Marchetta, right? Well, thankfully I did beca
Nov 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Probably not Marchetta lovers..
Recommended to Sarah by: The ridiculously naive Marchetta fanatic inside me.
’’There’s no denying that Melina Marchetta is a literary goddess, but Looking for Alibrandi just isn’t that good.
- Every Marchetta fan who read her debut novel after being blown away by her other book(s).
This book was nowhere near as amazing as the author's other works, but I didn't expect it to be either. Marchetta's writing and characterization has gotten a lot better over the years, and gone from average to stunning.

Family relationships: B
I really liked the relationships in the Alibrandi
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Getting the dvd in Europe 1 1 Apr 02, 2019 01:08AM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Set in Australia, the female protagonist is Italian and gets bullied for it growing up. [s] 5 24 Oct 24, 2017 08:20AM  
Aussie Readers: Looking For Alibrandi buddy read 28 39 Sep 19, 2015 07:22PM  
Who else enjoyed this book? 1 10 Jan 05, 2015 09:06PM  
Gaps and Silences 7 50 Apr 16, 2014 04:49AM  

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Melina Marchetta was born in Sydney Australia. Her first novel, Looking For Alibrandi was awarded the Children's Book Council of Australia award in 1993 and her second novel, Saving Francesca won the same award in 2004. Looking For Alibrandi was made into a major film in 2000 and won the Australian Film Institute Award for best Film and best adapted screen play, also written by the author. On the ...more

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