Kirsty Leishman's Reviews > Looking for Alibrandi

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
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Mar 26, 2016

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bookshelves: young-adult, australian-women-writers

3.5 stars

I think if I'd read this book twenty-three years ago I'd have appreciated it more. It's a coming of age story from what seems to be a more innocent time: pre-September 11, pre-social media; from an era when a family gathering to make a year's worth of passata was cause for embarrassment rather than a mark of culinary cosmopolitanism and a sure-fire ticket to the MasterChef grand final.

I suppose it's a good thing that third-generation Italian-Australian Josephine Alibrandi's narration of the trials of her final year in high school now seems dated; being of southern European descent, a 'wog', no longer attracts unfavourable commentary from the casually racist in this country. Not that there's much evidence, more broadly, that Australian society has become less racist in the intervening years--attention has merely shifted to more recent migrants who have arrived in Australia after fleeing war and persecution in their homelands.

For better or worse, the storyline around the mental well-being of one of Josephine's friends has stood the test of time. I look forward to the day when John Barton's fate is rendered unbelievable.
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Reading Progress

March 26, 2016 – Shelved
March 26, 2016 – Shelved as: young-adult
March 26, 2016 – Shelved as: australian-women-writers
March 27, 2016 – Started Reading
March 27, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Beckie (new)

Beckie I did read this 23 years ago and loved it, even though I did wonder even then whether the Greek and Italian kids in my class felt that much stigma and I was unaware, or if it was just a posh Sydney thing.


Kirsty Leishman That's interesting. I know I wasn't so convinced about the stigma around being born out of wedlock. I grew up in the north that Nonna refers to and we were very aware of the Italian cane farmer heritage of the area. My primary school was called Caravonica (derived from 'cara' and 'Veronica', after a farmer's wife). I also remember going to an Italian school friend's place and being absolutely dazzled by the displays of bombienere. So I only ever had positive associations. Perhaps it was the experience of Marchetta? Even though the book was set in the 90s?


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