After a long, tiring day when your overworked brain has taken a hike and you don't have the strength left in you to plow through the prose of a classic or read anything even remotely serious or saddening, a piece of YA fiction like Saving Francesca
comes as a blessing.
It is the kind of story which takes less than 4 hours to get through and leaves you with a lingering smile on your face, once its over.
It will be more apt to call Saving Francesca
a good entertainer rather than a great YA novel. It tries to take itself seriously by tackling relevant themes like depression and the done-to-death teenage dilemma between fitting in and being yourself. But unfortunately(or fortunately) enough it tickles your funny bone better than it tugs at your heartstrings.
We have Francesca, a 16-year old girl, forced to leave an all-girls' school at her mom's behest and join an all-boys'-turned-co-ed school and struggle to forge new friendships. Francesca, who resents her mom for having assumed she gets to control all aspects of her daughter's life, and consequently ends up opposing her in unlikely ways. But then suddenly, one day, her very controlling mom disappears from her life, shuts herself in her room and Francesca's close-knit family starts falling apart bit by bit. All of a sudden, Francesca is in charge and she doesn't even have an inkling of what she's supposed to do.
From here onwards, the story is about Francesca discovering friends, love and finding out a way to get her mom back again from the edge of a serious mental breakdown.Things I immensely liked about this book
i)The prose. Not even once did it annoy me or make me scoff at the conversations.
ii)The supporting characters - Francesca's friends, none of whom have been sketched along the lines of prevalent stereotypes. Thomas Mackee, especially, leaves a lasting impression.
iii)The humour. Some of the descriptions of school life, adolescent boys, quirky relatives will definitely make you laugh out loud.
iv)Francesca's love interest is not some angelic beauty, with blond hair, blue eyes and over 6 feet tall. Or a literal sex god. He is your regular, average-looking guy who is seldom written about in YA fiction but is remarkable in his own way. (Reminded me of my love for Peeta)Things I disliked about this book
i)Francesca calling her mom by her name. What is that about? I thought people previously unacquainted with their moms do that. Or call their stepmoms by their names.
ii)Depression. A solemn theme and not handled well. The reasons given for Mia's depression are too insubstantial. It's like I do understand what could have upset her, but I don't believe it could have possibly caused such serious trauma. That seemed ludicrous to me. Maybe it's a fashionable first world thing - to be depressed while you have the perfect job, the most picture-perfect family, a boyfriend-like-husband and beautiful kids.
iii)The little misunderstanding towards the end which tore Francesca away from her friends was too cliche a plot device that actually made me groan. Wasn't expecting that from an author who impressed me so much by steering clear of cliches.
iv)The romantic interest was the most unlikable character. He had very few interactions with Francesca and was almost never there for her when she was coping with a lot of problems. In fact, he was
one of the problems and that never ceased to irritate me. He came across as insensitive and selfish and his coming around at the end did not redeem him in my eyes. Also a guy who does not know who wrote Anna Karenina
needs his name crossed off the list of possible love interests without a second thought.
Final rating :- 3.5 stars out of 5. Melina Marchetta is an author I'll look out for.