This book is such a cryfest. In fact, at the end when I was getting all teary and trying to convince myself that I definitely wasn’t crying or about to cry, I started wondering why I was getting all teary over a contemporary that didn’t have anything to do with cancer. (Spoiler alert: I like books that make me cry. I don’t know why, but it could have something to do with feeling ALL OF THE THINGS.)
Saving Francesca isn’t anything new. The plotline isn’t anything particularly noteworthy. In fact, had I not heard praises of Melina Marchetta’s genius, I definitely wouldn’t have picked up this book on the basis of its premise or cover, both of which are fairly average for the genre.
So what made it so incredible?
Everything else. Francesca’s character, so flawed and so real; Mia’s vulnerability; Robert’s stoic attitude towards his family and his wife’s illness; Will’s hesitations; Thomas and Siobhan and Justine and Tara and all of Francesca’s wonderful friends.
I don’t know how this woman did it, but every single character felt real and every single character had backstory and hopes and dreams. In short, they were like real people, and that’s what makes a contemporary outstanding.
There was also the writing. The author can jam-pack so many emotions into a few sentences and write pages of witty banter. I was always fully engaged in the story at every single point, because there was always something going on, and just enough lighthearted humour to counterbalance the heavy emotional stuff going on.
This book is all of the reasons why I love YA contemporary and what I love about YA, all packed into one stunning novel. And because it’s set in the suburbs of Sydney and because Francesca’s school is so believable since it’s so much like mine, I was able to completely immerse myself into this setting without a single doubt.
I can see this story happening to anyone and I can see it happening to me. It’s a thought that scares me a little, but that’s the whole point of contemporary–to bring you into a world alien enough to be fiction but familiar enough to be home.
This book is a gem, and it’s worth nothing short of five stars.