Mini Review: Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

October 25, 2013

Title: Looking for Alibrandi
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publication date: October 5, 1992
Publisher: Puffin/Penguin Australia
Genre: YA, Coming of Age
Amazon | 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.

Told with unmatched depth and humor, this novel—which swept the pool of Australian literary awards and became a major motion picture—is one to laugh through and cry with, to cherish and remember.
How do you write a review about a book that's about nothing in particular but rather, about everything? And of a book that you've connected with on such a deep level that you really, literally have no words?

Which is why this review is going to be a mini review! (because, seriously, this book is so freaking aborkinfrgdgn AH-MA-ZING that I know that if I attempt to write a full review, I will just be setting myself up for failure)

While filling out the book details, I noticed that Looking for Alibrandi was written in 1992. That makes it 21 years old this year, and yet it continues to remain a book that can be considered one of the best in it's genre, proving it's worth. And the fact that it is just as relevant today as it was when it was first published is a huge feat, considering how many books become dated in a matter of few years nowadays. I finished this book a really long time back (like, August), and have been hesitating to write a review ever since, wondering if I could do this book justice, capture the essence of it.

This is my third Marchetta book, but she had me at Saving Francesca (the first book by her that I read). There's something about Marchetta's protagonists. I dont know what, but there is something. They're not overtly emotional or angsty, or have some traumatic past that holding them back  (I mean something like rape or abuse) or anything, like almost every other YA protagonist nowadays. Normal kids, just going about their business, facing everyday problems that could happen to any of us. Bu the thing is, they dont make their entire life about that little snag. The book is not about that snag. It's about so much, much more, and the 'snag' just happens to be... well, a snag that they find ways to deal with. Did I get my point across? I hope I did.

Josie is someone that I could relate to on a level heretofore unprecedented with a fictional character. And I know that sounds so cliched, the world 'relate', but it's not one that I use very often, so I have no qualms about doing so now. Josie is frank, brutally honest and unabashedly female, but there's also a side to her that's just a little girl who tries to see the world through her mother's eyes, to understand her feeling, even when she's not so sure about her own, and sometimes, she just breaks your heart. You cant help but root for her right from the start.

There are so many aspects of both our lives that are very similar (know what? Maybe she can be my book sister! Like book boyfriend? Book sister? Anyone?), like the fact that there are cultural values that she has to adhere to, even if she sometimes doesn't want to, and the pressure to maintain an 'image' to name a few. Also,
So not being able to go out a lot is one of my many problems.
I feel you, girl. Totally.

Looking for Alibrandi is not your average young adult book. It explores ideas, concepts and relationships with depth that is thought provoking and interestingly delivered. It was beautiful to see how Nonna's, Christina's (Josie's mum), and Josie's characters grew through the book, each facing her own trials, both with her own life and with relation to the other two (they're all women of strong character, with very set ideas), and how they all come together as one at the end, and find that they're not all that different from each other after all.

One last word, and then I'll leave, otherwise this will no longer be a 'mini-review'.


Bottomline: A book that will leave you wondering how exactly did you go about life without reading this beautiful piece of literature that provides endless food for thought while at the same time, remains true to the spirit of teenage life. Looking for Alibrandi is a must read. Period.

Ivy Book Bindings: ...Melina Marchetta is one of those few authors who constantly transcends the boundaries of literature during today's day and age and Looking for Alibrandiis a coming of age story that does just that - transcends....

Hello, Chelly: ...there's also something to be said for a book that can make you laugh out loud. And this made me laugh, a lot...

Young Adult Anonymous: ...I'm not surprised it's considered a modern classic in Australia and studied in school...

Holding Quote:
No matter how much I hate Poison Ivy, I want to belong to her world. The world of sleek haircuts and upper-class privileges. People who know famous people and lead educated lives. A world where I can be accepted. Please, God, let me be accepted by someone other than the underdog.

A tradition that I probably will never let go of either, simply because like religion, culture is nailed into you so deep you can't escape it. No matter how far you run.

You're going to go on living. Because living is the challenge, Josie.

No. You can't hate what you're part of. What you are. I resent it most of the time, curse it always, but it'll be part of me till the day I die.


  1. YES. Totally agree with you on Alibrandi, Fahima and your review was spot on :D I guess Francesca feels like my book sister, sort of, like Josie is yours :) I felt instantly connected to her world too- in Saving Francesca!

    1. Aw thanks! :) I know right! I knew you'd know what I meant!


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