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Literature / Saving Francesca

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Francesca Spinelli is having a really shitty year. Her old school, St Stella's, only goes up to year 10, but instead of going to the school she wanted, she ends up at St Sebastian, a formerly all-boys school that is now taking girls. However, as one of only thirty or so girls, she hasn't exactly been welcomed. Almost all of her old friends have gone to a different school, and now her new 'friends' are the ones nobody liked. Her House captain seems to have a thing both for and against her, and the kicker? Her mother, Mia, is suffering from severe depression. As Francesca tries to keep going despite everything going to hell, she soon discovers some very unwelcome truths, but she also starts to find out who her real friends are.

Melina Marchetta's second novel, Saving Francesca has been critically acclaimed and won several awards. It was followed by a sequel, The Piper's Son, which was released in 2010 and follows the misadventures of Tom Mackee, five years after Saving Francesca.

This book provides examples of:

  • Commonality Connection: Francesca starts hanging out with a group of guys who are all ethnically diverse. They happily accept her because she's Italian, and she likes hanging out with them.
  • Creator Thumbprint: See Write What You Know, below.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": William Trombal and Thomas Mackee prefer to be called 'Will' and 'Tom' respectively. The former does get called so in the book, but the latter isn't revealed until the first chapter of The Piper's Son.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Francesca serves this role for her old friends- they never call, and apart from the occasional meeting on a bus, they never try to meet her. It's really cemented after Francesca finds out that they're hanging out with a girl who once called her mother a slut.
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  • Heroic BSoD: After Francesca finds out about her mother's miscarriage and her friends turn against her.
  • Hidden Depths: Most of the guys seem like morons, but once they're not near their friends they end up being OK.
  • Italians Talk with Hands
  • It's All My Fault: Robert, Francesca's dad, believes that his wife's miscarriage happened because she wanted the baby but he didn't.
  • Missing Mom: Mia's depression means that she lies in bed all day and stops being the huge part of Francesca's life that she used to be.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Robert refuses to take Mia to a doctor because he believes that she'll just end up on antidepressants and they'll turn her into a med-addicted zombie. It's true that people have been addicted to meds and they do get wrongly prescribed at times, but the whole book would have been a lot better if he wasn't such a stubborn arsehole.
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  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Francesca correcting Will by telling him that Tolstoy wrote Anna Karenina, not Trotsky. He doesn't like that at all.
  • The Reveal: The catalyst for Mia's depression was when she had a miscarriage. Francesca and Luca never knew about this.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Francesca's relationship with Will Trombal.
  • Unfortunate Names: Francesca got to name her little brother. She settled on 'Luca', after the song by Suzanne Vega, because the character seemed so absolutely certain about who he was and what he wanted. She didn't find out until later that Luka the character got abused.
  • Wham Line: "After the miscarriage…"
    • It's not the line so much as the reaction- when Francesca finally gets the courage to tell her dad that she and Luca hate eggs and always have, he throws the pan at the wall.
    • " Will Trombal's got a girlfriend." Later, " Trombal and his girlfriend broke up" serves as another one.
  • Write What You Know: Marchetta is Italian, so any book that isn't fantasy is going to have some Italians in it.
    • Also, she lives in Sydney, so expect her books to be set there.


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