Book Bite: Saving Francesca

Title: Saving Francesca

Author: Melina Marchetta

Year published: 2003

Why I read it: I heard about it on a book podcast I listen to.

Blurb: Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumoured slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.

Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.

Rating: Would definitely re-read.


– I loved how this book dealt with depression and how it affects the person suffering from it, but also their family. The way the family reacted, both by coming together to support each other and by developing a level of resentment felt really honest. Additionally, the way they tied in that Francesca herself was struggling in ways both similar and different to her mother was a nice touch.

– I loved all the characters and their interactions. In particular, I found the female characters really interesting and complex in their different ways of dealing with attending a former boy’s academy. Likewise, the friendships were so well written, and felt so real. I really appreciate the boy-girl friendships with no hint at romance. There is too little of that in fiction.

– The romance between Francesca and Will was really nice and imperfect and progressed very naturally and realistically. I appreciate how they both still decided to stick to their plans at the end of the book, even though they both had feelings for each other that they were not willing to give up on. It was a healthy and refreshing change of pace.

** Since I first published this post I have read the tie-in novel, The Piper’s Son. I enjoyed that one as well, but it was tougher to get through than Saving Francesca.


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