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Literature / Looking for Alibrandi

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Written by Melina Marchetta, Looking for Alibrandi is a popular Australian Young Adult novel about an Italian-Australian teenager, Josephine Alibrandi. Due to its themes of self identity, coming of age, teen romance and sexuality, and depression and suicide it is widely studied in Australian high schools.

A film adaptation was produced in 2000, starring Pia Miranda, Anthony La Paglia and Matthew Newton.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Alpha Bitch: 'Poison' Ivy and and Carly Bishop. The characters are combined in the film adaptation.
  • Ass Pull: In-Universe - at the very beginning of the book, Josie explains to Sister Gregory why she was reading a magazine in class by attempting to relate it to the topic her class is currently studying.
  • Betty and Veronica: A conventional one at the start with Josie as Archie and her two male love interests as Betty and Veronica. Averted by the events in the book of course.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: In the movie, where Christina and Katia speak both English and Italian and swap between them, with Josie mostly using English but fluent in both.
  • Book Ends: The film opens and ends with "International Wog Day". Only with Josie being proud of it at the end.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Josie and John write letters to each other, seal them and give them to each other. They promise not to open each other's note until after the HSC, but after John kills himself, it's not hard for Josie to work out what John must have wrote in his letter to her...
  • Coming of Age Story: Josie comes to accept her heritage and family after going through the struggles of high school, her father coming into her life for the first time, John's suicide, the struggles of her relationship with Jacob and the regular stresses of high school.
  • Female Gaze: Featured prominently in the film when the students from the boys school arrive at the girls school. There are several close-ups of the boys butts as they put their hands in their pockets, causing their blazers to ride up.
  • Follow the Leader: The works of Irini Saviddes are remarkably similar, being written by an English teacher and featuring second generation immigrant girls coming of age, as does the book Wogaluccis. It is likely that this has more to do with publishers realising these themes are marketable, rather than these books being intentionally derivative.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: Josie (Character Narrator / The Smart Guy), Sera (sexy), Anna (sweet/naive), Lee (Deadpan Snarker)
  • Lets Wait Awhile: Josie ends up stopping Jacob from making further moves on her when they're making out in his bed, because it doesn't feel right.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Josie, to Michael.
  • N-Word Privileges: Discussed when Josie gets in trouble for hitting Carly with her textbook, partly in response to being called a wog (though what actually triggered it was a crack about Josie's illegitimacy). When Michael gets called in, she acknowledges that she has no problem with the word coming from another Italian or even her close friends like Lee.
  • Parents as People:
    • Josie's mother Christina is a good woman, but she is bound up in family drama and the stress of Josie's father returning that it ends up causing communication problems between the two of them.
    • Josie's father Michael never knew she was around until the events of the story. He does try to make things right and bails her out of trouble at school, but he struggles with putting her first.
    • Katia is an overbearing mother & grandmother, but she is deeply traumatised after living with an abusive husband and feeling like she has cursed her family with her infidelity and wanting to make sure Josie breaks the cycle.
  • Scholarship Student: Josie was the recipient of the English scholarship at elite private secondary school St. Martha's. Josie outright states that were it not for the scholarship, she would never be at St. Martha's.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In the film, upon finding out that Josie has a boyfriend, her parents independently ask if he has a car. This leads her to realise where she was conceived.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Josie's mother gave birth to her as an unmarried teenager at 17.
  • The Unreveal: John and Josie exchange sealed letters about their hopes for the future. When John dies, Josie realises his letter must be his suicide note. Averted then played straight in the movie, where she does read the letter, but it still doesn't help.
  • Verbing Nouny

Alternative Title(s): Looking For Alibrandi