Looking for Alibrandi

Looking for Alibrandi

by Melina Marchetta


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375836947
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 05/09/2006
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 557,564
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.71(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Melina Marchetta lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is a teacher. She is also the author of Printz-winning Jellicoe Road, as well as Saving Francesca and Finnikin of the Rock.

Read an Excerpt

Panic was my first reaction to the multiple choice options that lay on my desk in front of me. I glanced at the students around me before turning back to question three. I hated multiple choice. Yet I didn't want to get question three wrong. I didn't want to get any of them wrong. The outcome would be too devastating for my sense of being.

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.

Excerpted from "Looking for Alibrandi"
by .
Copyright © 2006 Melina Marchetta.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Children's Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Looking for Alibrandi 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
Looking For Alibrandi is the first novel by Australian author, Melina Marchetta. The year that Josephine Alibrandi turned seventeen was filled with life-changing events: she had to pass her HSC; she met her father for the first time; she fell in love; she learned some shocking facts about her family; and someone close to her committed suicide. She also learned the importance of family, of knowing her history, of being responsible, of having good friends and of being one. Marchetta’s novel touches on reputation, on the stigma of illegitimacy in certain cultures, on sex in young adults, on the assimilation of different cultures and on the expectation to follow in parents footsteps. It is easy to see how this novel would appeal to younger readers: the issues are relevant even if references to songs, events and personalities mean that it is a bit dated now. It is no surprise that it won the 1993 Children’s Book of the Year Award for Older Readers, the 1993 Multicultural Book of the Year Award and the 1993 Variety Club Young People’s Category of the 3M Talking Book of the Year Award. A moving read.
shell70 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love this book as I did the movie. I was surprised to find out that the movie didn't stray from Marchetta's novel. A must read for all students.
RefPenny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Josephine Alibrandi is a seventeen year old Australian girl of Italian descent. She is in her last year at a Catholic school and she is illegitimate. During this last school year she finally meets and starts to form a relationship with her father, falls in love for the first time and learns some family secrets. This book has won many awards and become something of a classic. It is a status that is well-deserved. Josephine is frustrating at times, like most teenage girls, but her story is warm and original. A good read for teenage girls.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Josephine Alibrandi knows what it's like to deal with labels. She never felt like she fully fit in, because she was born in Australia but had Italian roots, and has a single mother. Now she's a scholarship student and a senior at a Catholic high school, still struggling to know herself. Josie has to navigate relationships with her mother, her Italian grandmother who seems to find nothing good to say about her daughter, and her father, Michael Andretti, who shows up out of the blue after abandoning her mother eighteen years ago. She wants to break free of everyone's rules and expectations, but does Josie even know what she expects of herself?Written in an almost-diary format, Josie has a compelling and authentic voice of a seventeen-year-old coming into her own. Each chapter is written in first-person past tense, but comes across as if the events she relates just happened. It's not quite a diary, however, as there are no dates heading up each chapter, and weeks can go by between pages. Almost an entire year is covered, as Josie learns about herself, her family, and her dreams. The story covers a lot of ground in terms of her relationships with friends, boys, her father, and her grandmother, but the theme holding the story together is Josie's coming of age and growing to know herself. Realistic teen fiction doesn't always age well, but this search for identity will always have currency, and the only parts that date the story are brief references to Doc Martens and a tape deck. Though not as streamlined or complicated as Jellicoe Road, this is still a book I would recommend.
wsquared on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's Josephine Alibrandi's last year at her elite Catholic school in Sydney. She just wanted to get through the year without any problems, but things don't always go as planned. As a third generation Italian, Josephine doesn't quite fit in with the popular girls at school, who pester her with racist remarks. And she's torn between her long-time crush, the perfect on paper John Barton, and the bad boy from the local public school, Joseph Coote. To top it all off, her father, who didn't even know she existed, returns to her life. We follow a year in Josephine's life as she struggles to find herself amidst these complications.This is a story about relationships -- Josephine's relationships with her mother, her grandmother, her father, the boys in her life, her classmates, and even Australian society -- and that is where the book's strengths lie, especially the characterization of the grandmother-mother-daughter dynamic. And while I thought the building of the bond between Josephine and her father was well-done, I never bought into either of the love interests. I also thought the time structure of the novel was awkward. A whole year is packed into a few hundred pages, so it's almost a series of vignettes, which doesn't make for a compelling read. There's also a weird plot point near the end that changed the tone of the book and seemed like a contrived fix to bring the plot points to a certain conclusion. Overall, it was an interesting coming-of-age story, but I'm not sure how relevant it would be to American teens almost 20 years from its original publication date.I listened to the audio version of this book, whose narrator I never fully warmed to. The narrator's accent was at times charming, but veered to annoying in bits. I'm curious what my reaction to the story would be had I read it in print. But despite some of my misgivings with the book, I'd still like to see the film based on it if I could find a copy here in the US.
ankabemo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good read- suitable for young adult collection
stephxsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Josephine Alibrandi is 17, lives with her single mother, and must deal with her critical and past-obsessed grandmother. Little throws this opinionated and feisty girl off guard in her female-dominated world, but if anything can cause her to rethink all that she thought she understood about the world, the arrival in her life of a potential love interest, a deeply suffering friend, her long-absent father, and a shocking family secret just might.At long last, I¿ve picked up and finished my favorite author¿s debut novel, which also happens to be the last book of hers that I read. It¿s fascinating¿and quite odd, to tell you the truth¿to read her first book last: it¿s like peeking at a great author¿s first draft. Nevertheless, LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI was an enjoyable, if not spectacular, contemporary read featuring a feisty main character and a discussion of ethnic discrimination in Australia.The great maturation of Melina Marchetta¿s writing style over the past 20 years shows. Much of the character development in LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI takes place in the form of dialogue: Josie¿s grandmother, in particular, talks a lot about their family¿s history, and Josie is often at odds with her grandmother as to where they stand regarding their position as Italian Australians in Australian society. Sometimes the character development feels choppy, for Josie will be acting like an immature brat one day, and in the next chapter, she will talk about how she feels herself changing as she learns more and more. Um, from where does this growth naturally progress? I scratch my head in confusion.The best part of LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI is probably Josie. In a genre where all too often female protagonists will be much blander than their authors intended for them to be, Josie is loud-mouthed, mean at times, unafraid to make her thoughts heard. She is very direct with the family members she disagrees with over various issues. Because of Josie¿s opinionated point of view, readers are able to be immersed in a discussion over ethnic biases that existed in Australia at the time of this book¿s writing, that may still exist today. Josie is unafraid to voice her complaint about how she is treated and thought of differently by her classmates. Sometimes this feels like too much telling and not enough showing, but it¿s Melina Marchetta. Which means that even not at her fullest potential, she is still worth reading.LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI may not have claimed my heart as Saving Francesca and Jellicoe Road have, but it¿s still, I think, a must-read for Marchetta fans, who will be able to appreciate just how far their beloved author has come.
neichg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have read the first 6 chapters of Looking for Alibrandi, and I am loving every page. I like the way that the story is told and the fact that it can be so honest in a discrete way. It is written by an Australian author, so I find it very easy to reate to the culture and ways of living in the novel. The story is about the main character Josephine - also known as Jozzie. She has a very close relationship with her mother as she is the only person that she lives with. She has never met he father and so he has had no significant impact on her whatsoever.This book is very hard to put down and I would reccomend it to anyone who is looking for a good Australian novel.
nelliecalcutt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have only read a few of the chapters, so far, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the book. I am in many diiferent situations to Joshephine, but I often find myself agreeing with many of her feelings, and I want to read more and find out about how she deals with the situations which I can relate to!
mcgarry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yr 9 - Yr 10.Josephine Alibrandi is seventeen, illegitimate, and in her final year at a wealthy Catholic school. This is the year she meets her father for the first time, and allows him to come back into her life, the year she falls in love, tests friendships, the year she discovers the secrets of her family's past and the year she sets herself free.
JessicaCoffee More than 1 year ago
Okay okay okay okay. I'm doing five stars, because I loved it and I cried like an idiot and I love how human Melina makes all of her characters. Obvious motives or not, good reasons or not, all people make choices and say things and have regrets, and as with all of Melina's writing (or the five I've read now), she never fails to make the characters totally and completely and utterly HUMAN. Josie is human. Josie's mom is human. Josie's grandma is human. Michael is human. John is human. Jacob is human. (Poison) Ivy is human. The sisters are human. I could go on and on, but the gist of my point is this: when you're human, you make mistakes. Sometimes you regret them. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes it takes ten minutes to learn from them. Sometimes it takes decades. And every single person who comes into your life can teach you something, but you won't always learn this until it's too late. Sadly, we don't always learn this. Josie did. This probably sounds weird and I hope it doesn't offend anyone, but Melina Marchetta is my Sarah Dessen. Now excuse me, but I must go. I need more tissues.
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MissPrint More than 1 year ago
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.
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jarujav More than 1 year ago
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.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Katie_Marvell More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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'
Guest More than 1 year ago
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 :]