Publisher: Penguin Aus
Pub. Date: June, 2006
Age Rank: Young Adult
Source: from publisher - Penguin Aus
Francesca battles her mother, Mia, constantly over what's best for her. All Francesca wants is her old friends and her old school, but instead Mia sends her to St. Sebastian's, an all-boys' school that has just opened its doors to girls. Now Francesca's surrounded by hundreds of boys, with only a few other girls for company. All of them weirdos--or worse.
Then one day, Mia is too depressed to get out of bed. One day turns into months, and as her family begins to fall apart, Francesca realizes that without her mother's high spirits, she hardly knows who she is. But she doesn't yet realize that she's more like Mia than she thinks. With a little unlikely help from St. Sebastian's, she just might be able to save her family, her friends, and--especially--herself.
Remember what I said about this book in IMM post? I said it was interesting from page 1. Let me rephrase that - it's actually amazing from page 1 to page 256. I'm officially a fan of Melina Marchetta now.
The plot of this story is really familiar to young readers - a teenager stuck in a mess of problems not knowing how to get out because everything seems to be against her. But it's different because there's something new and fresh - an all boys' school started to accept girls and the unbalanced fight between the gender begun from here. This is, in my opinion, what makes the book so exciting from the very start.
Francesca's life at the new school sucked like hell. She missed her old friends, she hated the girls she was with now, and worse, she was accidentally the presentative of the girls to fight against the school boys- those who treated the ladies with no respect. I feel empathetic with Francesca because she had to deal with such a difficult situation but then it was still so fun seeing the boys and the girls mocking and bickering with each other. You'll for sure love the fight - it was honest, hiarious and never too intense. Like the story wasn't mainly focused on it, but it was always there from the beginning to the end.
In spite of how engrossed I am into the girls' protest to have their rights in St. Sebastian's, I couldn't but be lured in another issue in Francesca's life - her mother's sudden breakdown. It was so well - described that I found myself in our poor girl's place. First I was so confused, then I was depressed/hopeless and later, super duper shocked. I was surprised by how the author kept the reason behind it all for a long time and didn't make me feel bored or annoyed at all; also, how she revealed it was a nice touch - it appeared kind of random but still managed to wrap up all the emotions and "explosion" of a climax.
I really like the characters and their relationships in this book. We all can find a piece of ourselves in Francesca. Actually, she's the most relatable character I ever came across. Her problems expose all the insecurities of a teenager: sometimes you just keep a lot to yourself and do not open much to peple and they think you're a snob, or you try to hard to blend into a crowd of those you believe are your friends just to feel safe, or you don't hang out with people who have bad reputation so no one can judge you even though you know they're actually good. Seeing Francesca breaking her shell to come out and be who she is - like her mother always said - will make you feel so warm and free, and maybe, if you're any like her, want to do the same thing. Francesca's love for her mother is also something very significant. I love it a lot. Melina skillfully lets us explore Francesca's heart slowly so that step by step we get to know how her mother meant to her life, even though all the time the girl complained that she was the one who held the real Francesca back.
One more character to mention - the one and only Will. His relationship with Francesca is so interesting. It makes the story cuter and sweeter than ever. He seems to have to sides - one is decent, cold and nerdy when the other flirty and kind of bad. Although how their mutal feelings blossom is typical, the complication makes up for it. You just have to love the couple.
This book is amazing. That's all I can say. You should pick it up as soon as possible!