Looking for Alibrandi- Melina Marchetta

Synopsis from Goodreads.

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.

“I’ll run one day. Run for my life. To be free and think for myself. Not as an Australian and not as an Italian and not as an in-between. I’ll run to be emancipated. If my society will let me.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
I honestly think the world will stop turning the day I read a MM book I do not like.

High Points.
Strong females. Josie. Nuns. Religion. Family. The past. Jacob. The future. FBA. Identity. Culture. Fast food first jobs. Stories. Catching me off guard with the sadness (which I did NOT appreciate). Friendships. Speeches. Politics. Motorbike helmets. Boys with eyes that are just green. Smuggling biscuits. Dances.

Low Point.
I really wanted to find out more about Josie and her father’s relationship and how it developed. I know this book was more about the females in Josie’s life but I really loved their relationship and I believe I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if there had just been a few more prickly road trip scenes thrown in.

I got shouted at because I get referring to Josephine as Jo (it’s just easier, OK? Why else would I call her Jo? Eh? No reason.) so I’m going to make the effort to call her Josie. Begrudgingly.
I really loved Josie and what I loved most about her was that she was so different to MM’s usual heroines. Now, it’s no secret that Taylor, Francesca and Evanjalin are probably my favourite YA heroines ever, so that is not to say that I liked Josie more than them.
Normally Ms Marchetta’s heroines are reserved and observant and in control and almost wary of their emotions. But then we get Josie, who is loud and ballsy and wears her heart on her sleeve and puts it all out there.
Josie is so breathless and exhaustive and sometimes she can be annoying and petulant and rude to her mother and dismissive to her grandmother and she’s so so defensive and argumentative towards Jacob that I often wanted to just grab her and tell her to calm down and stop being a little madam.
But she was also hilarious, fearless, normal, inquisitive and, my favourite thing about her, she never backed down. She fought what she believed in and she made no apologies for it.
I saw a lot of myself in Jo…sie. She doesn’t think before she says things. She thinks that shoving everything into a cupboard is cleaning up. (If the door closes, it is fine) She would rather drown in her own sweat than be eaten get annoyed by an insect that could physically carry you off into the night get in through an open window. She gets angry when people steal all the good biscuits (Why would they do that?!). She thinks that pineapple on pizza is immoral (I’m a combination of Canadian, Welsh, Reddish-y and Dukinfield-y and even I think pineapple on a pizza is sacrilege)
Oh and I was also determined to win every game of Pass the Parcel and Musical Chairs.
Yeah, I was that girl.
Man, Agadoo provided the soundtrack to the most tense moments of my childhood.

MM sure knows how to deal with dysfunctional families, huh? I just love them. From the Markhams to the Spinellis and, of course, the Mackees… they are all just so messed-up and real and full of depth. I don’t want to divulge too much but… yeah, the Alibrandi familial relationships are no exception.

Love Interest.
Dear Jacob Coote,
Lose the girl hair and we’ll talk.
Kind regards,
ps. You can keep the bike. And the ability to dance to Elton John without a hint of irony. (I assume it’s without irony. If it wasn’t, forget it. It would never work between us.)

Theme Tune.

Shhh…. Crowded House has Australian members too.

There’s a battle ahead,
Many battles are lost,
But you’ll never see the end of the road
while you’re travelling with me

I like to think of this song as a love song to the Josie, her mother and her grandmother. That was my favourite aspect of this book and it was sososo perfectly depicted.
Also, in relation to Mr Coote.

“Promise me you’ll never stop dreaming.”

I promise, Jacob.
I mean… uh…
Josie promises.
*shifty look*

Strictly Savage Garden Story Song.

Due to the fact it would be a travesty of the highest order if this song did not feature in at least one of my reviews, I dedicate this song not just to this book but to all of Ms Marchetta’s books.

Because, guys… I have no more to read until Froi comes out, which isn’t for a like a gabillionjillion years in the UK.
*gnaws on hand*
So, I feel like I need to take a moment to pay homage to them all until we are reunited… take it away Darren.

It takes a real man to look good in sepia.

Boy Angst.
9/10. Holy moly, never mind Josie, her and Jacob’s relationship nearly gave me a heart attack. Seriously. Every scene made me feel like I’d ran a marathon and then got on a rollercoaster and then demolished a crate of Red Bull. Or that cheap stuff you get in Tescos which is ten times worse.
It was so….raaaargh.
Yes. Exactly like that.
(And some people say I’m not articulate. Pfft. )
But it was also full of lip quivering moments and butterflies and some extremely tender moments which I just adored.
It was a very realistic portrayal of first love where emotions are running high and everything is amplified and it all feels like being on the back of a motorcycle driven by a boy of whom your mother wouldn’t approve.
And that ending? Perfezione. Thanks free online translation service!

Sadness Poignancy Scale.
7/10. I wouldn’t say this book was necessarily sad (except for ONE bit. Which reached into my chest and ripped out my heart) but there was a definite sense of poignancy with Josie and her relationship with the past and the future.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but this is such a rich book with one foot firmly placed in the past. Looking for Alibrandi is full of all these delicious little layers that are perfectly constructed and, as we delve into Josie’s family past, it becomes obvious that nothing is as it seems. Traditions and beliefs are questioned, identities are challenged and those seemingly insignificant decisions will continue to shape generations to come.
My favourite part of this story was reading about Josie’s grandmother and her experiences as an Italian in Australia all those years back. They were told with such warmth and passion, it often felt like I was sat in that little living room sweltering with no air conditioning listening to the Alibrandi’s stories.
Like I said, this book didn’t make me necessarily sad (except that ONE bit.) but it made me think and feel like I need to go round to my grandparent’s houses and listen to their stories because after all they’re my stories too.

Recommended For.

People who have ever felt they don’t fit in. People who think that the stories their grandparent’s tell them are the most interesting. People who would wag class to go and see a rock star. People who wish that fairy bread was common practice in the UK (which is the most random/inevitably delicious party snack ever! Good choice, John, good choice). People who wish every boy could play Blowin’ in the Wind on a recorder. People who think underwear is an effective contraception. People who don’t get the urge to cut off boy’s hair when they see it tied in a ponytail. People who will never stop dreaming.

This review is part of

You can find out more here.

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