Book Review: Looking for Alibrandi

February 9, 2013

In my quest to consume all things Melina Marchetta (well, at least all contemporary realistic lit things), I sought out Looking for Alibrandi, the one book of hers I hadn’t read.

This review wilLooking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchettal be brief as I don’t have that much to say about the book. The language, as always, is beautiful, and the relationships are well-drawn. But I feel like most of this operates as a sort of blueprint for Saving Francesca in that some of the same elements are there (foursome of female friends, hyper-intelligent and privileged guy, working class and quietly brilliant guy, etc) though they’re not as well drawn in Looking for Alibrandi.

The novel follows Josephine (Josie) through her senior year of high school and is largely told in episodic vignettes. She learns about her past, connects with some people, loses some people, and finds herself. Standard coming of age novel. The one element that’s different, really, is Marchetta’s exploration of how an ethnic population in Australia (the Italians) constantly bumps up against the “native” or “true” Australians (not Aboriginals, of course, but white Australians who have no real ties to a specific European ancestry).

Anyway, I found this book a lot slower moving and less engaging than Saving Francesca or The Piper’s Son, but I did enjoy Josie’s relationships with her grandmother, mother, and Michael Andretti.

I also think it’s pretty obvious that this is Marchetta’s first book–especially having read her later work. Definitely good for completists, but I’m not entirely sure I would have sought out more of her work with as much fervor if I had read this first.

Source: Library

Oh, so my new thing I’m trying out is tracking books mentioned in other books. So at the end of each post, I’m going to note the books/authors mentioned in a book.

Books Mentioned in This Book: Mr. Galliano’s Circus by Enid Blyton

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  1. Vasilly

    Thoughtful post. I haven’t read anything by Marchetta before. Which book would you recommend I read first?

    • Akilah

      I was immediately in love with Saving Francesca. I think if you read that first, you’ll find the rest of her work fantastic. Jellicoe Road is also pretty amazing, but it takes quite a while to pick up and then BAM. So, yes, either of those two would be a great intro to her work.


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