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Looking For Alibrandi (2006)

Looking for Alibrandi (2006)

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3.84 of 5 Votes: 1
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0375836942 (ISBN13: 9780375836947)
knopf books for young readers

About book Looking For Alibrandi (2006)

I have never come across an author whose work I swore by. I've read many great pieces of literature but they stand alone, they are individual. A writer's first novel might leave me uninspired but his second novel might break my heart. Its like music, not every song by a musician is going to be a hit. Until Melina Marchetta. I wasn't even worried when I picked up Looking for Alibrandi because I knew it would be good. And it was. I feel like all of her books are on par with each other, except for On The Jellicoe Road which is just too exceptional to be regarded as anything less than an award-winning novel. I had a hard time deciding where Alibrandi fell on my "Marchetta Scale." Above Saving Francesca? Below The Piper's Son? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. And so I decided it shall be thus:1) On The Jellicoe Road2.5) Looking for Alibrandi2) The Piper's Son 3.5) Saving Francesca 3) The as of yet unread but soon will be Finnikin of the Rock & any other book that shall in the future be published under her name.4) The rest of YA literatureI don't think I'm even exaggerating. Her characters and their emotions and situations are so real. No, scratch that. They are so complete in thought and in words that you can't help but be pulled in. I'm gushing and making little sense. This review will not be insightful nor helpful nor original but here I go...Marchetta can be accused of being somewhat formulaic. Its always a young adult facing an identity crisis. Its always about family and belonging, whether its within society or a smaller community. Joesphine Alibrandi doesn't know who she is or how to even classify herself. Is she Italian or Australian? Both? And if so, how? I adored Marchetta's deconstruction of immigration and culture shock, integration and resistance. How do you reconcile the customs you were born into and the ones you have to grow up with? How do you live with such a distinction between the life you have inside the walls of your home and the great big world you walk out into? Josie is seventeen and she's selfish, impulsive, obnoxious and passionate. This story is how she finally figures out that the only person whose opinion should truly ever matter is our own. We label ourselves, no one else. I moved to Canada when I was seven. I've been here longer than I haven't. The culture I brought with me is still a very big part of my life. It always will be. I grew up like Josie. I was amongst my peers during the day. I went to school with them, I played with them, I had sleepovers with them but I was different. Their homes, when I visited, were different. Its like living in two worlds. Outside I was Canadian, inside I was someone else. Fortunately, unlike Josie, I had never experienced racism or any form of prejudice and discrimination. When I was young, kids talked of course but never anything that has left scarring, emotional or otherwise.I did struggle however because any feeling of inferiority I had was put upon by my own self. I made myself feel and think I was less because I wasn't like my Canadian schoolmates. They had it easier, I thought, less complicated. They had the same rules coming in and out of their homes. But I played by different standards. My friends saw me one way and my family another. And that gets have to fill different roles between friends and family. Its the transitioning that made it frustrating. I felt for Josie because I had gone through it myself. I've had people argue that its easier on children when moving into a foreign country. Why, exactly? Because kids don't understand? Because kids just play and have no time to think? Because nothing we do is of any real urgency so it has less weight? As an adult you have full comprehension of the situation. As a child, you have no idea what the fuck is going on. Why your lunch is suddenly weird and smelly compared to your friend's sandwich. Why you're not allowed to stay out after school. Why your parents have to have their address, phone number and speak to their mom or dad just for one night's sleepover. Why you didn't spend as much money on their birthday gift as the others. And then there's the tug-of-war I love my culture, I hate my culture. Josie was suffocated by of all the restrictions put upon her because some country that looks like a boot nine thousand miles away lived by the same rules. Her old-fashioned grandmother enforced on her old-fashioned principles. I remember wanting desperately for my parents to understand that "the other kids were doing it so its alright" or that "but that's not how they do it here." All I ever got was a stern tone and the shake of their heads. Josie felt like a foreigner, an alien in a country she was born in. I can't imagine if she had been like me, born in one place and having to assimilate in another. I felt like a tourist for a long time. Going to the mall and taking pictures to send to relatives back home, bringing our own snacks to the amusement park while other families ate in the restaurants. Vain, trivial things really but it meant the end of the world to me then. It took forever until I finally felt like I had the right to be here. That is what I got most out of Marchetta's novel. Her writing is so convincing and dead on that the more I read the more memories kept creeping out to have a look. The more memories I remembered, the more I loved the book. A lesser writer wouldn't have affected me as deeply. My childhood was not as tragically conflicted as this makes it sound. Over all I'm really lucky that I live in one of the most diverse cities in the world and with that comes a tolerance that obviously isn't as routine in other places. I still judge some of the fundamentals I discover in both of my cultures but that's the point. We're not one or the other. We're a hybrid. We're a compromise and we have more freedom in choices of values and traditions because we have two to choose from. Looking for Alibrandi is an excellent book. Be prepared to meet a loud, spirited, ever confused and ever brazen young girl. She's flawed but so is every character Marchetta introduces us to. Its the only human thing, to be imperfect. The key is how she compels us nonetheless to love and root for them. I had a harder time warming up to Josie than any character so far, only because she was such a teenager...know what I mean? Marchetta's voice is just as succulently reflective as in her other books, but you do sense her writing developing deeper and broader breadth (most apparently in Jellicoe Road). This isn't her best written book, but sometimes technicality is cancelled out by emotional ties.There is so much more I want to talk about. But I'm sure by now I'm the only one left in the room, so having no desire to be speaking here to myself, I'll have just a few more words. Josie and her relationship with her mother and grandmother is sweet and strained. I didn't always like the way she treated them but what's growing up all about if you don't have any qualities to improve? The love story is worth fawning over. I especially love the end - you'll have to read why. And yes, yet another pathetic crush on a fictional character. Finally her relationship with her father, while not totally uncommon, is still unconventionally thought out that I at first couldn't be persuaded to buy it, until I did. I'll buy anything Marchetta sells me.I didn't plan on this review to be so long. I figured I'd said enough on my review for Jellicoe Road but I can't seem to shut up. Marchetta demands recognition.

“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.Heroine.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 more tense moments of my childhood. Family.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, 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.Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House. 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 meI 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.”*sob*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.Truly Madly Deepy by Savage Garden.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.Raaaaargh.(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 AUSTRALIA WEEK on my blog... you can find out more here.

Do You like book Looking For Alibrandi (2006)?

Required reading for young teens, Looking for Alabrandi is a beautifully realised tale of growing-up, fitting in, and discovering who you are. Marchetta explores the experience of growing up as a 'third-culture-kid' in Sydney during the 1990's. There are so many issues/themes explored in this book; cultural identity, class division, bullying, suicide, virginity, single parenthood, and relationships with parents/grandparents, but readers won't feel like they are being lectured to. The issues are all woven into the experiences Josie has as she progresses through her final year of high school.I love Marchetta's writing style. It is light and conversational, and you feel you are reading Josie's diary. First person narratives can be quite repetitive, but I found this to have a nice balance between introspection and dialogue. The only downside to this book is that it is a little bit dated, in particular having no mobile phones or computers to communicate with friends changes some of the dynamics of friendships these days. Also there are some pop culture references that fall quite flat now. Beyond that there isn't much that I disliked.I would recommend this to teens aged 13-14, especially those in Australia. At around 300 pages it's an easy read, and a great introduction to the world of teen fiction. It also broaches quite serious topics in a very accessible way, so is an important stepping stone.
—Tamsien West

All through the reading of this book, I felt like the author hadn't been able to decide quite what she was writing; is this a teen's journal or is it a first-person narration book? Every chapter seemed to address some subject of the main character's life, and mostly they seemed really disconnected. I didn't think the writing was smooth at all, though it wasn't because it was trying to imitate a teen's voice. I liked some of the concepts, but overall it just seemed like there was a pattern of "stuff happens to Josie, Josie reacts, later Josie has a thought about it that might or might not relate to other crap in her life." There was a lot of inconsistency with regards to style--for instance, the Italian grandmother who doesn't speak smooth English sometimes has her accent highlighted with alternate spelling and sometimes it's just dropped and written normally. It just seemed so random sometimes, and there were very unlikely events in it (like the main character breaking a classmate's nose for calling her a "wog," even though she'd never had any predisposition for violence before or since). The relationships seemed forced and unresolved and just very . . . very much like the book was a collection of thoughts on a first-draft level. When I looked deep I could feel the issues Josie had, and the most interesting thing about it for me was the way it highlighted the experience an Italian-Australian has in Australian society, but overall I found it difficult to get into.

I remember when this book came out while I was at school and decided it wasn’t really my thing at the time so I didn’t read it then, but am now catching up with some of Melina Marchetta’s work. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Saving Francesca - I think because I found Josephine Alibrandi a more difficult character to relate to than Francesca. Josephine, although a school vice-captain, does things that I would never have dreamed of doing at her age and is consequently regularly in trouble! She seemed more mature than I felt was realistic and was always “talking back” to people in authority - and saying things that I would never have said!Like Saving Francesca, Looking for Alibrandi also tackles the difficult topic of mental health while navigating the trials of adolescence.

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