Ok, I’m just going to come out and say it. Saving Francesca is my least favourite Melina Marchetta book. There, I said it! But before you freak out and start getting all crazy hater on me, let’s stop for a second and analyse what I just said. It’s my least favourite Melina Marchetta book. This, of course, means it is still absolutely brilliant and a billion times better than almost every other book in the entire world. But think about it, the reality is that there has to be a least favourite. No matter how good her books are, or how closely they rank together, there will always be one that is just a little bit less amazing than the others. For me, that is Saving Francesca. Given that it is still amazing, I’m going to call this my 9th favourite Melina book.
It took me a long time to figure out what it was that made Saving Francesca my 9th favourite Melina book and it pretty much comes down to Will Trombal. Melina writes her male characters magnificently, and Will is no exception, but he’s just not my type. That’s pretty much it. Apart from that I think Melina has done an exceptional job of portraying what it would be like for an all-boys school to suddenly become co-ed, tackling the issue of depression and, as always, delving into the complexities of relationships. Just like with all her books, I read Saving Francesca and feel as though I have made new friends and am always shattered to finally close the book and feel like I now have to leave them behind (Thank God (or Melina) for The Piper’s Son).
Of Melina’s four YA novels, Saving Francesca is probably my least favourite. I’m not really sure why but I don’t think it’s actually anything to do with the book itself, just that I love LFA, OTJR and TPS more. Or maybe it’s that I don’t find William Trombal particularly swoon-worthy… Yes, I’m that shallow.
Although Saving Francesca was the third book of Melina’s I read, it was Melina’s second book published – 11 years after Looking For Alibrandi – and had I not already fallen in love with Melina as an author, I probably would’ve sympathized (to a certain degree) with those who approached Saving Francesca with a touch of trepidation back when it was first released. You know, it was the whole ‘with such a large gap between the first and second book, you have to wonder whether the amazingness of Alibrandi can be matched.’ Which, from what I’ve read, is what a lot of people feared. I don’t really buy into that, as I like to begin each book I read with no expectations of its alleged level of awesome (or lack thereof), regardless of what I’ve heard or read about it. Everybody has different tastes and I believe it’s important to form your own opinion.
It’s long been established that Melina is the queen of writing relationships and probably my favourite one in SF is the relationship between Frankie and Justine, Tara and Siobhan. How it goes from Frankie barely tolerating them to realising that they’ve become the true friends that she’s been missing for most of her secondary school life. I love Saving Francesca because it introduced me to one of the greatest literary loves of my life, Thomas Mackee. Not discounting, of course, James Hailler. I love how it deals with depression – how it can tear a family apart – in an honest and heartbreaking way. Annnnd I feel like I might start rambling soon if I don’t wrap this up so I must finish by saying that despite Saving Francesca being my least favourite novel of Melina’s, I definitely still count it among my absolute favourite books.