Looking for Alibrandi

Looking for Alibrandi - Melina Marchetta "Looking for Alibrandi" is one of my favorite Melina Marchetta books to date. Something about it clicked with me in terms of the familial focus as well as Josie's coming to terms with the people and events around her. She's the kind of protagonist who can be absolutely insufferable in spurts, but at the same time, it's hard not to feel for her during some of the tougher moments this novel has to offer. Between getting to know her long separated father, dealing with her contentious mother and grandmother, and having to deal with her school life and rumors surrounding her family, Josie has much to contend with. She's of Italian descent, though born in Australia, but feels like an outsider because of the taunts and discussions of how her mother had her at a young age and her father left. However, when her father returns in her life, she's not sure how to take it. On one level, she's willing to push him away (and he feels likewise), but the two of them develop a relationship progressively that suggests that they need each other more than they think they do. In the mix of things, Josie finds love and friendship among her peers, learns more about her family than she realizes, and experiences quite a bit of heartache that takes her to new lows. In the end, Josie learns in her 17th year that life has its ups and downs, but as mentioned in one measure in the book, she learns it's what you make of your life, and the dreams you have that keep you going. I loved the depth of the characterization in this book, much like some of Marchetta's other works. Josie's a hard-headed, but self-aware narrator, so when she screws up in places, at least she reflects about it in the aftermath to note her mistakes. There really were times when I wanted to admonish her through the book about the things she said or did that were foolish, but you remember she's still a teenager and acting through the range of emotions that she feels in her circumstances. I appreciated the focus that Marchetta has on Josie's family and ultimately the revelations that Josie uncovers in spurts. You can tell Josie loves her family, and while she has her ups and down, she's surrounded by people who want the best for her. You can also tell this in the people she develops relationships with. I definitely liked the relationships she shared between Jacob Coote and John Barton. One of the twists in the book did completely take me by surprise and tugged at my heartstrings. I didn't cry over it, but it definitely left me feeling gutted - for Josie as well as the people surrounding her. I'm totally for coming of age stories that are told in a progressive fashion, and this was one of the books that clicked with me. I think it's a novel that quite many teens can gain something from, when it comes to finding comfort in your identity and learning to come to terms with who you are and what you want in life. Josie's a protagonist that isn't always lovable, but the way she learns to come to terms with herself is refreshing, and something that I think is quite nice to see in her respective story.Overall score: 4/5