Posts tagged ‘savingfrancesca’

May 21st, 2011

Fictional Characters I’d Name My Daughter After

by Madeleine Rex

Isn’t this a fantastic topic? I’ve robbed it from Audrey. I have definitely spent time contemplating this. After all, I’m a girl – it’s natural to daydream about baby names. Even more importantly, I’m a reader – so it’s natural to adore fictional characters to the point of ridiculousness. Hence, this post.

Fictional Characters I’d Name My Daughter After:

Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables series. I actually plan on naming a girl after her. I absolutely love everything about her and love everything about the series and love everything about the people and have I mentioned I love her? See? I adore her to the point that I’ll throw punctuation and sentence structure right out the window. This is serious stuff.

Macy from The Truth About Forever. If I were being more literal here, all the names would be from books written in the 1800s. I love the old-fashioned ones. However, Macy is one of the more modern names that I really like. It’s unique and has a short-and-sweet quality to it that appeals to me. Plus, The Truth About Forever is an irresistible book.

Another name I absolutely want to use for a child someday! It’s short for Caroline, and I first came across it when attempting to read Shirley by Charlotte Bronte. I’ve loved the two other books I’ve read of Charlotte’s, but I couldn’t seem to get through this one. All the same, great and unusual name!

Margo from Paper Towns by John Green. Need I say more? Isn’t the name “John Green” synonymous with “never-ending amounts of awesomeness” by now? What? No? That’s not in your thesaurus? Well, they’re synonymous in my scrambled brain, and Margo is awesome by association. Plus, it’s a neat name.

Astrid, the wild flapper from Bright Young Things. There’s also a girl named Astrid on one of my favorite TV shows, “Fringe,” and they’re both inspiring, entertaining, and absolutely lovable.

Honorable Mentions (the following are great characters but have names I’m not crazy about): Andi (Revolution), Alex (Revolution), Rhine (Wither), Francesca (Saving Francesca), Frankie (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks), and Mia (If I Stay/Where She Went).

I would certainly read any posts similar to this one, should any of you decide to write one! If you do, let me know in the comments, and I’ll take a look. Happy Apocalypse!

May 9th, 2011

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: The Piper’s Son

Author: Melina Marchetta

Published: March 8, 2011 (in the US)

Number of Pages: 336

Rating: 4/5


Melina Marchetta’s brilliant, heart-wrenching new novel takes up the story of the group of friends from her best-selling, much-loved book Saving Francesca – only this time it’s five years later and Thomas Mackee is the one who needs saving.

Thomas Mackee wants oblivion. Wants to forget parents who leave and friends he used to care about and a string of one-night stands, and favourite uncles being blown to smithereens on their way to work on the other side of the world.

But when his flatmates turn him out of the house, Tom moves in with his single, pregnant aunt, Georgie. And starts working at the Union pub with his former friends. And winds up living with his grieving father again. And remembers how he abandoned Tara Finke two years ago, after his uncle’s death.

And in a year when everything’s broken, Tom realises that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them. [From Goodreads]


[Tara to Tom]”…So either find yourself a good punk band or move on, Tom. Because it kills me to say this, but you’re actually a tiny bit gifted.”

“How would you like it if I said to you, ‘It kills me to say this, but you’re actually a tiny bit beautiful’?” he had asked, pissed off.

She hadn’t said anything then, which was rare for her.

“Would you have been lying?” she said, after a long silence.

“Lying about what?”

More quiet.

“About me being a tiny bit beautiful.”

“[Crap] yeah.”

But later that night he had sent her a message on MSN.

Of course I was lying. The ‘tiny bit’ part anyway.


I know I just reviewed Saving Francesca, so you’re tolerance-bucket is already full to the brim with Melina Marchetta praise, but if you could, I don’t know, cut holes in the bottom of that bucket so I can pour more into it unceasingly, that would be great.

I’m only partially joking.

The Piper’s Son has way more swearing than I’d like, and there’s one scene that I will never read again, but the story beneath is so endearing it’s ridiculous. Thomas Mackee, the goofball, seemingly-shallow-but-deeper-than-most-of-the-boys-you’ll-ever-meet friend in Saving Francesca, was one of my favorite characters. How can you resist sarcastic and clever humor like his? I love the dryness of it – and the fact that he can be so soft when he wants to be. When I found out that The Piper’s Son focuses on him, I was sold.

This book, in my opinion, is even darker and more devastating than Saving Francesca. I thought the Spinellis (Francesca’s family) were a mess, but they don’t even compare to the Finches and Mackees. When you start this book, you might as well be plunging into ice cold, dark water. In fact, that’s where you’d have to go to feel like Tom. Don’t be scared away by the unpleasantness of the situation. It’s worth it. It’s always worth it to cheer for people as they struggle to succeed at life when locking themselves in a room and living off Ramen Noodles would be easier.

This book is so complex, and I’d say it deals with the happiness of thirty characters. It’s incredible how much is stuffed into it. I’ll admit that I got lost occasionally and had some trouble piecing together the bits of the past Tom revealed throughout the book. Still, there’s this beautiful feeling of satisfaction at the end. I felt the struggles and growth so acutely that I almost feel as though I should be proud of myself for making it through.

The Piper’s Son alternates semi-frequently between Tom’s point of view and his aunt Georgie’s. Georgie happens to be 42, and Tom is 21. In other words, this book is definitely not the sort that would appeal to your everyday twelve year old. They wouldn’t appreciate it as much. It’s primarily about people who have lived through a lot, have been forced to handle more than their share of heartbreak and frustration, and are working on making fewer mistakes tomorrow. It’s about getting life in order.

The Mackees and Finches are a family that needs to pull themselves together and stop dreading their memories. I love that they manage to eventually do this through family and friends – through love, really – and that’s just how things are dealt with in Saving Francesca as well. Nothing ends up perfect, but it’s so very satisfying.

Essentially, this sequel is a lot tougher to swallow than Saving Francesca. It’s always sad to see that people have grown apart as they grew older, and a lot of the characters are in that situation (at least in the beginning). Tom makes many of the same mistakes over and over again, but he takes the necessary steps (such as figuring out what an idiot he’s been and contemplating how to deal with that tendency toward idiocy). I also love that he’s not all bad. Never. Almost everybody on the planet has redeeming qualities and a cause for their actions, and he’s not to be excluded. There’s never any doubt that he’s a good person. I just kept waiting for him to realize it.

Overall, The Piper’s Son is an expertly executed, slightly depressing, heart-wrenching, and extremely endearing story.

P.S. Please excuse this really terrible review! Go read Audrey’s. Really.

April 25th, 2011

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Saving Francesca

Author: Melina Marchetta

Published: May 31, 2006

Number of Pages: 243

Rating: 4/5


Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastians, a boys’ school that’s pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an 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 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. [From Goodreads]


I miss the Stella girls telling me what I am. That I’m sweet and placid and accommodating and loyal and nonthreatening and good to have around. And Mia. I want her to say, “Frankie, you’re silly, you’re lazy, you’re talented, you’re passionate, you’re restrained, you’re blossoming, you’re contrary.”

I want to be an adjective again. But I’m a noun.

A nothing. A nobody. A no one.


If I could write ballads or sonnets or, well, anything that resembled poetry and didn’t rhyme something like “party” with “tarty”, I would write a sonnet/ballad/poem that expressed my devoted readership to Melina Marchetta. Goodness knows she deserves it (and deserves better, actually, because it would still probably be terrible). Jellicoe Road blew me away and has since stuck with me. I think of the paths and grounds around the boarding school whenever I visit the land my family owns and imagine building a tree house or fort. I love that feeling I get when I look at something and memories come to me that aren’t mine, but belong to characters in a book. Melina Marchetta creates stories that you feel are yours. Saving Francesca was not a disappointment in this regard (or any other).

There are certain characteristics that hit you right off, such as Melina’s totally amazing (why can’t I think of a better adjective? Even “astounding” and “awe-inspiring” sound cliché.) prose. Next, the expert way she introduces back-story without losing you and manages to flesh out Francesca’s voice in the process. There are just so many things to learn from a writer’s perspective by reading Melina Marchetta’s novel. Even more importantly, there are so many things to admire from a reader’s standpoint as well.

Saving Francesca is undeniably a story of characters. The plot was not the seed of the book, but the characters, and from that sprouts a fascinating web of events and scenes that will keep your eyes locked to the page. I was surprised by how many secondary characters Melina manages to juggle, and though sometimes they blurred for me (that could be credited to how quickly I read it – one afternoon), they added elements to the main plot and additional subplots that the book could not have “lived” without. I absolutely adore the characters in this book. The friendships – specifically the odd but organic development of the friendships – between these characters are inspiring and, honestly, SO CUTE. They have their little animosities, they have their bigger ones, but in the end, they benefit more than they lose from being close.

Francesca’s life has certainly taken a turn for the worst, and by beginning with a drastic change in lifestyle and family, there is so much more room for development and growth and “coming into herself”. I loved watching Francesca as she blossomed – that tight, caved-in, constricted feeling of her personality at the beginning, the cracks that slowly wound their way about her, and the eventual and gradual burst of FRANCESCA! that we’re left with at the end is fabulous.

I think what I really admire about books like this is the fact that they are absolutely bursting with everything that constitutes life. I said something similar about Looking for Alaska, actually. There’s this pull I have toward books that juggle difficult situations in which people are forced to confront every ghastly emotion imaginable. Hatred, frustration, self-loathing, disappointment, guilt, confusion, etc. The more severe the bad feelings, the more gorgeous the good ones. Because of some of the crazy and, admittedly, depressing emotions Francesca and the other characters felt, I got to witness the expansive range of human qualities that fill up our lives, all in 243 pages.

Unfortunately, this book also has a few of the features I dislike – such as swearing and some sexual conversation, but it’s certainly cleaner than Looking for Alaska or Jellicoe Road. It’s so often that the books I really love have this content I despise, and it’s all so confusing. However, it doesn’t feel wrong recommending this book to YA readers 14 or over. If you’re a parent, I’d recommend reading it yourself and then making a decision, but it really isn’t too bad.

Overall, Saving Francesca is all those adjectives I can’t think of. Think synonyms of beautiful, astounding, and exceptional. Better yet, skip all that and think: I need to read this.