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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 ...
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.
During her senior year in a Catholic school in Sydney, Australia, seventeen-year-old Josie meets and must contend with the father she has never known.
So I began with elimination. D was completely out of the question, as was A, so that left B and C. I pondered both for quite a while, and just as I was about to make my final decision I heard my name being called.
“I think you mean ‘I beg your pardon,’ don’t you, dear?”
“I beg your pardon, Sister.”
“What are you doing? You’re reading, aren’t you, young lady?”
“Um . . . yeah.”
“ ‘Um, yeah?’ Excellent, Josephine. I can see you walking away with the English prize this year. Now stand up.”
So my final school year began. I had promised myself that I would be a saint for this year alone. I would make the greatest impression on my teachers and become the model student. I knew it would all fail. But just not on the first day.
Sister Gregory walked toward me, and when she was so close that I could see her mustache, she held out her hand. “Show me what you’re reading.”
I handed it to her and watched her mouth purse itself together and her nostrils flare in triumph because she knew she was going to get me. She skimmed it and then handed it back to me. I could feel my heart beating fast.
“Read from where you were up to.”
I picked up the magazine and cleared my throat.
“ ‘What kind of a friend are you?’ ” I read from Hot Pants magazine.
She looked at me pointedly.
“ ‘You are at a party,’ ” I began with a sigh, “ ‘and your best friend’s good-looking, wealthy and successful boyfriend tries to make a pass. Do you: A—Smile obligingly and steal away into the night via the back door; B—Throw your cocktail all over his Country Road suit; C—Quietly explain the loyalty you have toward your friend; D—Tell your friend instantly, knowing that she will make a scene.’ ”
You can understand, now, why I found it hard to pick between
B and C.
“May I ask what this magazine has to do with my religion class, Miss?”
“Yes, dear,” she continued in her sickeningly sarcastic tone. “The one we are in now.”
“Well . . . quite a lot, Sister.”
I heard snickers around me as I tried to make up as much as I could along the way.
Religion class, first period Monday morning, is the place to try to pull the wool over the eyes of Sister Gregory. (She kept her male saint’s name although the custom went out years ago. She probably thinks it will get her into heaven. I don’t think she realizes that feminism has hit religion and that the female saints in heaven are probably also in revolt.)
“Would you like to explain yourself, Josephine?”
I looked around the classroom, watching everyone shrugging almost sympathetically. They thought I was beaten.
“We were talking about the Bible, right?”
“I personally think that you don’t know what we’ve been talking about, Josephine. I think you’re trying to fool me.”
The nostrils flared again. Sister Gregory is famous for nostril-flaring. Once I commented to someone that she must have been a horse in another life. She overheard and scolded me, saying that, as a Catholic, I shouldn’t believe in reincarnation.
“Fool you, Sister? Oh, no. It’s just that while you were speaking I remembered the magazine. You were talking about today’s influences that affect our Christian lives, right?”
Anna, one of my best friends, turned to face me and nodded slightly.
“Well, Sister, this magazine is a common example,” I said, picking it up and showing everyone.
“It’s full of rubbish. It’s full of questionnaires that insult our intelligence. Do you think they have articles titled ‘Are you a good Christian?’ or ‘Do you love your neighbor?’ No. They have articles titled ‘Do you love your sex life?’ knowing quite well that the average age of the reader is fourteen. Or ‘Does size count?’ and let me assure you, Sister, they are not referring to his height.
“I brought this magazine in today, Sister, to speak to everyone about how insulted we are as teenagers and how important it is that we think for ourselves and not through magazines that exploit us under the guise of educating us.”
Sera, another friend of mine, poked her fingers down her mouth as if she was going to vomit.
Sister and I stared at each other for a long time before she held out her hand again. I passed the magazine to her knowing she hadn’t been fooled.
“You can pick it up from Sister Louise,” she said, referring to the principal.
The bell rang and I packed my books quickly, wanting to escape her icy look.
“You’re full of it,” Sera said as we walked out. “And you owe me a magazine.”
I threw my books into my locker and ignored everyone’s sarcasm.
“Well, what was it?” Lee grinned. “A, B, C or D?” “I would have gone with him,” Sera said, spraying half a can of hair spray around her gelled hair.
“Sera, if they jailed people for ruining the ozone layer, you’d get life,” I told her, turning back to Lee. “I was going to go for the cocktail on the Country Road suit.”
The second bell for our next class rang, and with a sigh I made another pledge to myself that I would be a saint. On the whole I make plenty of pledges that I don’t keep.
My name, by the way, is Josephine Alibrandi and I turned seventeen a few months ago. (The seventeen that Janis Ian sang about where one learns the truth.) I’m in my last year of high school at St. Martha’s, which is situated in the eastern suburbs, and next year I plan to study law.
For the last five years we have been geared for this year. The year of the HSC (the High School Certificate), where one’s whole future can skyrocket or go down the toilet, or so they tell us.
From the Paperback edition.
Posted February 27, 2012
Melina Marchetta is Australian. According to the backflap copy for this book, she lives in Sydney where she teaches English at an all-boys high school. After the 1992 debut of her first novel Marchetta found herself in an interesting position. Looking for Alibrandi won every major literary award for young adult literature in Australia so that Marchetta subsequently had to teach her own book to her students. All told, not a bad problem to have.
Ten years later Saving Francesca came out and also garnered a lot of praise and awards (as well as regularly being in my Top Five). In short, Melina Marchetta is a pretty big deal. I enjoy her books because they feel like her characters are living lives that I might have had were things different.
Apparently, and I'm embarassed to say I only found this out yesterday, Looking for Alibrandi was also adapted into a movie in Australia in 2000 with Marchetta writing the screenplay. I wish I could find the DVD.
Set in Australia, this novel deals with a sub-community that I didn't even know Australia had: Italians. Narrator, Josie, comes from an Italian family that immigrated to Australia. At a Catholic school she doesn't like, surrounded by people who don't understand the Italian part of her culture, seventeen-year-old Josie feels adrift.
Josie has a lot of women in her life. She lives with her mother and (much to her frustration) spends afternoons with her grandmother until her mom can pick her up. Josie's father isn't a part of the picture. He never has been. And what I like about this novel, is that it isn't a big deal-it's just life. No complex explanation, no pang of longing for the father she never met, he's just no around.
Or is he?
Things get more complicated for Josie and her mom when Josie's long-absent father suddenly reappears. After living without him for so long, Josie isn't sure he's worth her time now. In this thread of the novel, Marchetta does an excellent job exploring how Josie can acquaint herself with one of the people she should know better than anyone else.
Amidst this family confusion, Josie finds herself caught between two very different young men. Josie has always been attracted to John Barton, and with good reason. His life seems to have been handed to him on a silver platter. From a rich family, bound for law school, and good-looking, John seems to have everything going for him. Still, as John finally notices Josie and open up to her, Josie is shocked to find that John isn't nearly as content as she would have guessed.
Jacob Coote, on the other hand, is completely comfortable in his own skin. From a working class family, Jacob is confident about his own bright future (and his ability to get there by sheer force of will). Drawn to Jacob's radical ideas and striking personality, it's hard to tell if Josie and Jacob are perfect for each other or too similar to ever really last.
Looking for Alibrandi is a novel with many facets and many plots. All of the characters are dimensional, adding their own stories to the larger narrative of the novel. In addition to an excellent dissection of family relations, Looking for Alibrandi is one of the best novels about the immigrant experience I have ever read. Yes, Josie is probably third generation if not later, and true these characters are immigrants to Australia and not the USA. Still, the novel offers admirable commentary to anyone interested in immigration (and assimilation) in America and elsewhere.
Posted January 8, 2012
After reading Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, I fell in love with the way she creates her characters. I've read all of her books that have been released in the US, and they are all phenomenal.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 31, 2009
Love this book read it when i was 15 at school and ive read it so many time its falling apart. Its a must read for all australians and is what most teachers assign in their english classes. The themes and issues are able to be related to all readers in all countries around the world. However some jokes will only be understood by those living in Australia, just as some of you joke etc are lost to me when reading and watching shows from the US. A must read no matter your age.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 17, 2009
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This book was great, just like every other book by Melina Marchetta that I have read. It was something I could really understand even though I have never had an Italian family or lived in Australia. I think everyone can related to this book in some way or another and it is definitly worth the read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 19, 2007
I thought this book would be about some hopeless chick who would just gripe about how the world was so unfair. Boy, was I wrong! I really liked the main character, Josephine (Josie) because she was a strong, optimistic person who never gave up even when her world was crashing down. And I also liked how she was aware if she was being mean to people she loved because it made her more real to me. The book was really funny, but also really sad. I liked how it reading it made you feel so many emotions at once.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 15, 2007
What I really loved about this book was the character Jose. She was a heroine, so strong and brave and compationate. I like the diologe between the characters. Everyone spoke with so much passion. This book emphasizes the relationship between family and friends and it made me realize just how important they are.
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 3, 2007
This book was so wonderful. In the begining i started reading and thought, i can't really relate to her lifestyle, but through the personality quirks and different characters there evolves an intamicy to the story that is so hypnotizing. In comparison to her other novel Saving Francessca, I thought this one was ten times BETTER!!! You should really readd this book for the romance, scandal, family and learning how to grow up. 'i'dreccommend dit for girls aged 14-18'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 1, 2006
this book has everything i wanted. it has romance, it has substance, it also has a meaning. And while it's not perfect, it touches you in way that makes you want to read it over and over again.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 27, 2006
this book was amazing, romantic, sad, funny, exciting, and everything else. marchetta is my all time favorite author and i read her other books. i cant wait for her to make more. GET THIS BOOK. i did :]Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 30, 2003
I loved Looking for Alibrandi when I first read it as a teenager years and years and years ago. I have waited impatiently for Melina Marchetta's next book which has finally arrived! Keep your eye open for 'Saving Francesca'. It is absolutely fantastic. A great story about Francesca and her relationship with her family and the friends she meets at school. Must read if you loved Looking for Alibrandi!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 9, 2003
I think this is a really fantastic book. It was almost as if it were a true story of a real girl. I recommend it to all of my friends. Reading this book to me out of the U.S. and put me in Australia. In response to the parent: If a child reads this and you think that this is to mature for that child then don't have them read it. Don't try to blind someone from reality because these things happen every day so when faced with these kind of problems maybe that child who reads this book will have the sense enough to know what to do.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 10, 2003
It is unfortunate that the author found it necessary to include expletives throughout, as well as a relatively graphic near-sex scene (at least she said no in the end). This is required reading throughout the state of Victoria, Australia, which is disturbing to me as a parent. Although the book appeals on the level of pop culture, it is not likely to stand the test of time like true classics.
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 14, 2003
I absolutely LOVE this book, I'm 16 and I can relate to this book in so many ways. This is how life really is for girls in Australia, they get it so right!!! It's inspirational and educational, and I'd recommend it to anyone!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 11, 2002
Looking for Alibrandi is a wonderful novel full of inspiration and information. This novel is about a young women named Josephine Alibrandi who is trying to fit in with her peers. Throughout Josie's final year at a wealthy, private school she finds out who she really is inside and learns many things about her past heritage, life and realationships. This book is great for teenagers and also for adults to understand some of the difficulties teenagers may experience in school years. I think that this novel is a great read that everyone would enjoy. Thank-you so much Melina Marchetta:)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 21, 2001
Wow. That's the first word that comes to mind when I think about this book. It will seriously make you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. The narrator/protagonist is strong, a tad naive, and extremely funny. I stayed up late and skipped meals to finish this book. It's that good!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 2, 2001
Posted August 29, 2001
As I read these reviews on this book I can't help overcome what I wrote in my 1st review, in April, 1999. I couldn't put the book in more better words at the time. I feel every school in the major countries in the world should make this book for require reading. Like Australia did for there High School Exams for college. I feel this is require reading because it deals with a lot of issues that teenage people go through and etc. The main character could be someone we could of knew at a time and we could lived in the that kind town and so on. I know it did for me, what I mention above.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 12, 2001
Posted April 17, 2001
No doubt that this book is one of the best books I've read. Emotional,funny and realistic... warm and exciting. The book takes us on a journey of growing up....no differernt to the one that you and i have went through. Strongly recommendedWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 10, 2001
'Looking for Alibrandi' is an amazing novel. I am from Italian decent and I related to Josie in this novel, unlike I've ever related to any character. This novel addresses issues of today in a heartwarming, capturing way. This is one of the best books that I have read in a very long time and I recommend it to those who love to read books and love to get lost in them. Molto bene!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.