Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: Random House (Alfred A. Knopf)
Spoilers?: No (with some hints).

Goodreads Synopsis:

 For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.

Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the nononsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.

Told with unmatched depth and humor, this novel—which swept the pool of Australian literary awards and became a major motion picture—is one to laugh through and cry with, to cherish and remember.


I’ve only read a couple of Marchetta’s books (both of which I should, and want to, re-read), but have enjoyed all of them. This one wasn’t one of my favorites, but I still liked it. Although, for some reason, it took me way too long to finish it.
Josephine Alibrandi, the main character, is very dramatic. She tends to blow things out of proportion, freak out over anything; she feels her emotions very strongly in the moment. Which is alright. It wasn’t done over the top, although at certain points, I rolled my eyes at her blatant teenagery angsty attitude. She wasn’t whiny or anything, though, for the most part. She was very much a teenager that needs to do some more growing up. And she did do some growing throughout the book, although I don’t think enough. She starts trying to connect with her family, the people around her, and gets a more uplifting look on life, and gets the idea that living isn’t such a terrible thing, that while some things suck, she actually enjoys it.
Throughout the book, she meets her father, who unknowingly left her mother pregnant. She doesn’t know how she feels about having a father now, but their relationship grows, and I really liked her father. He was fun and clever, and became quite a great dad. Her mother, through all of it, was also really great. Her grandmother was a little harder to like at times, and some of the things she did in the past kind of sucked, but she grew on me a little bit by the end.
Aside from her family, she also has some problems with two boys. And then her friends. First, the boys: she already knows both of them, John she has a big crush on, and Jacob she starts growing feelings for. Pretty soon, you see that something is wrong with John. I felt bad for him, but was hoping what I was suspecting wouldn’t happen. And then, just when I was starting to think it really wouldn’t, it happened. I wasn’t crushed by it, but it was still a bit upsetting nonetheless. So that left Jacob, who she was with, but who she had a hard time being with. Their relationship tended to include a lot of fights and make ups, and he was a little pushy at some points, but I liked him for the most part. They both needed to do some more growing up, though, so the ending made perfect sense for them. The ending just in general was good, though, and fit really well.
Now, her friends. Some of her friends were okay, but she didn’t seem as close with them as she could have been. And she didn’t seem to care as much as she could have about them, either. Sera, in particular, I didn’t like. Lee and Anna seemed like they had potential, though. I’m not too sure where her friend situation was going by the end of the book, though.
I feel like there could have been a couple ‘big’ moments, where she realizes something, or just something big could have happened. She found things out about her Grandmother, and they got resolved between them, but not really between her mother and her Grandmother, when I thought they should have been. I also felt like something could have happened between her Grandmother and her past coming to the present. But whatever on that. Then something big could have happened between her and her friends, and a little thing did, but nothing really seemed to change between their relationship. I don’t know; none of these things are bad, but maybe a little disappointing.
This wasn’t my favorite book of hers, was probably just a little over average, but I enjoyed it for the most part. The characters were fun, but it took a little bit for it to pull me in. I will probably be picking up another of her books, if I can find one, the next chance I get, though, so we’ll see.

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