jo's Reviews > Saving Francesca

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
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's review
Dec 18, 2011

bookshelves: read-enough, australia-nz, kids, mama-is-crazy, psychic-pain
Read from December 18 to 19, 2011

this is just about as good a novel about being a sad kid in australia as i have read, and if you think i'm being facetious i'll tell you that i've read another australian novel about a sad kid and it didn't even compare to this one, quality-wise (i didn't finish that one either). problem is, i don't like YA novels. i just don't. i want my writers to talk to me as an adult. i want difficult words that express difficult ideas in difficult turns of phrases. i want hard and edgy. i want complex in that adult way of being complex that involves jobs, getting older, and losses different from the (terrible) losses of kids.

also, the whole love thing, i don't know, maybe it didn't work that way for me, but i just can't feel it. boys looking at you sideways; boys walking you to class; boys giving you rides home... i didn't do any of that. i didn't even do it with girls, if you see what i mean. that whole game happened while i was thinking about other things. what other things was i thinking about? i studied like a dog, i fought with my sisters, i fought with my parents, i fought with my relatives, i fought with my teachers, i fought with just about everyone. i rode my bicycle fast through one of the most beautiful cities in the world. i worried about grades. sometimes i met with my classmates and studied. sometimes i went to parties with my classmates but i found them boring and felt like i didn't belong so i left. i hung out with the kids in the parish. i fought with the priests and the counselors and every adult in sight. i wish there were a book about me, but not a YA book. when you think about these things from the future of adulthood, they feel different, you know? the sense of loss is both magnified and diminished. kids are capable of tremendous despair, but adults, well, we're a bit more jaded, and we're afraid of death, and we are really afraid of injuries we didn't even know existed when we were kids, and all of this tinges our memories in a special and unique way. there's all this history that took place, and even though in some ways our adolescence feels to us as intact as it was then, it isn't. it's different, and i wish i could think of a writer who captures its misery through the eyes of adulthood. maybe sylvia plath in The Bell Jar?

but then the true crazy thing is that YA writers are adults, and this messes me up entirely. in fact, most YA readers are adults. what gives? what gives? if you have made it this far, please explain it to me.

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Reading Progress

12/18/2011 "i'm reading this cuz simon is making me."
04/24/2016 marked as: read-enough

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Sorry; I can't help. I think maybe I did less fighting and more moping than you did, though I did my share of fighting.

message 2: by jo (new) - added it

jo what i was wondering about is the specific kind of pleasure adults who love YA stories, specifically girls' stories of love and friendship (or lack of love and lack of friendship), find in them. i am casting it all in terms of identification, but maybe that's not the only avenue to pleasure, and i'm missing others.

also, i'm wondering about adults who write these stories. what part of their adult minds do they need to silence?

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I think some of the appeal is structural with YA stories. It's like why there are so many cop shows (or doctor shows) - because cops (and doctors) often move through social strata that the average person doesn't have any access to. Meaning: high school was the last big melting pot any one of us (Americans? maybe?) had any experience with.

also, i'm wondering about adults who write these stories. what part of their adult minds do they need to silence?

Many books in any genre are escapist wish-fulfillment; YA is no different. But I don't think all adults writing YA are stifling themselves - just take Madeleine L'Engle or C.S. Lewis - writing for adolescents*, but concerned more with religion and myth. (And, for better or for worse - L'Engle informed my early religious sensibility very strongly - at 10, the things she said were a shock.) Although, you're talking about adult readers? I don't know. I myself am immune to Twilight and its clones, but I see a lot of romantic love there and not a lot of female friendship - or friendship of any kind. Bella and her kin tend to be really self-absorbed and focused on their mens, which is why I like Marchetta's characters so much - she captured those big, far-flung groups I moved within in high school - the friendships. And there are relationships with older people that felt real - many YA novels have disappearing parents, and while, yes, Francesca's mom has checked out, some of the story is about getting her back. She hasn't checked out a completely as Bella's parents, who are two character traits and a mortgage.

*big caveats on Lewis - he's writing before the YA label had been codified, and I think it was understood that his stuff was to be read by adults too.

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