saving francesca

Saving Francesca

saving francesca


Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, 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 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.


I got my hands on Saving Francesca in March 2013, shortly after reading Jellicoe Road (review here) – kind of late to the Melina Marchetta party, but I tell you: Melina Marchetta novels are definitely worth it. When I first read Saving Francesca its impact on me wasn’t as unerring as Jellicoe Road probably because I was destroyed by the previous book so much the feeling stayed with me until I come into contact with another that will slay me into tiny pieces and remain catatonic for a couple of weeks (or months, who knows?).

Now that I’ve gone through it again, I stand by what I said when I first read it. It’s not that I didn’t like it or it’s a bad novel. It’s more like — dare I say it — I find it to be the weakest (yes, I’ve said it) of the three I’ve read (almost done with The Piper’s Son and it’s fantastic).

First of all, I do think that Saving Francesca is a great contemporary YA novel. It absolutely has Aha! moments and that’s why I like it. The characters are multifaceted which I found to be one of Melina Marchetta’s strengths. I think Francesca is strongest in her weakest moments that you find yourself rooting for her all the more. And even if she was temporarily lost, her little quirks shone and stayed until she got her momentum back.

Second, I love how Francesca has real people problems. I know how it’s fun to sometimes read something out of the ordinary, something that rarely happens to people like you and me but I realized that nothing beats harsh reality. Days of fighting dragons and going on wicked adventures is incomparable to uncomfortable days and nights waiting for your mother  to overcome depression.

And third, I love how relationships are portrayed in this novel (in all of Melina Marchetta’s novels, actually). I love how it’s not just exploring romantic relationships between two coming-of-age people but also the dynamic of a suddenly dysfunctional household, of group of friends, and  of one’s relationship with the self – Marchetta has covered it all.

Those three would have been enough but there was a nagging feeling inside of me midway through the book that I should know more about Jimmy Hailler. He’s one of those secondary characters that I believe has all the potential to be a primary character. From where I am standing (or sitting), I think he’s got as much vulnerability and profoundness as all of the primary characters in this book. Also, let’s not forget how important his character is in the betterment of Mia.


Saving Francesca may not be as life changing to me as others might tag it but it is a beguiling story of finding (and saving) yourself. Highly recommended. 4 out 5 stars.

the catastrophic history of you and me

The Catastrophic History of You and Me

Today I offer you another book I finished in one sitting or lying (what, I was in bed and it was 10 pm) – Jess Rothenberg’s The Catastrophic History of You and Me.

the catastrophic history of you and me

Image courtesy of Goodreads

To be honest, I am not drawn to the cover as it is a bit too tacky for my liking. What happened to the likes of This Song Will Save Your Life?

However, the plot description kind of did it for me. A fifteen-year-old girl, Brie, died literally of a broken heart after her boyfriend broke up with her and she wakes up in the afterlife utterly clueless what’s going to happen next. She gets help from one of the dead and gone, Patrick, who looks like Tom Cruise circa Top Gun and from there, everything gets interesting and weird. Interestingly weird, anyone? Continue reading

if he had been with me

If He Had Been With Me

So, it is the first of March from where I am and I have to admit, that’s sort of alarming. I have not been very active here because I have been busy writing here. (hashtag shameless plug) Anyway, during that time I still managed to get some reading done and here’s a quick review of Laura Nowlin’s novel, If He Had Been with Me.

if he had been with me

Image courtesy of Goodreads

If He Had Been with Me tells the story of childhood friends, Finn and Autumn, and how their relationship changes when they grow up (or apart, who knows).

Okay so that maybe didn’t give justice to Ms. Nowlin’s novel but here’s the thing, I absolutely disliked this book. Let me tell you why. Continue reading

fangirl rainbow rowell book cover


Okay. So this is a long overdue rant about Rainbow Rowell‘s new novel, Fangirl. It is a coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family, and first love. Don’t let those last two words fool you because this book has so much wisdom I reread it five times (FIVE TIMES). This post is full of spoilers (sorry can’t help it) so if you haven’t read the book skip this one and for 100 years of good luck, read the book!!!!!

fangirl rainbow rowell book cover

Let me tell you about this book okay. It’s the gift of the gods. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to Contemporary Young Adult Fiction. Rainbow Rowell is a magical entity made of emotional realness, unicorns, and My Little Pony. Fangirl is also so unique in that it is a bookception. It combines three unique narrative voices of Rainbow Rowell, Cath as Magicath, and Gemma T. Leslie, the author of the Simon Snow series. Continue reading

the spectacular now tim tharp

The Spectacular Now

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Elaine has
completed her goal of reading 30 books in 2013!


I’m happy to announce that I am finally done with this year’s Reading Challenge! Woooohooo! It feels good to accomplish something! Anyway, based on my half drunk post earlier, the last book I read to complete this challenge was Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now. There are possible spoilers below so if you haven’t read the book or saw the film, it’s time to stop reading.

The reason I read this book is  the movie and the buzz. I don’t know if they’re going to screen it in the Philippines but I have avoided the trailer until now that I’ve finished reading because I’m one of those people who’d rather read the book first because I don’t want the movie to alter my interpretation of the book. I actually have high hopes for this book not only because of the great things I have read about its film adaptation but also because it’s YA and you can never go wrong with YA. And I wasn’t wrong. I finished the book in two days because I was so invested. At 1:00 a.m. today, I went to sleep with a black hole in my chest.

Here’s a synopsis from GoodReads:

SUTTER KEELY. He’s the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

Okay. For me, Sutter is not very likable. He’s someone I will probably date but will also cry about every night because he’s a goddamn asshole. He’s fun, sure but he is also a man without a plan. That does not necessarily mean that I don’t like the book; you don’t have to like the characters to love a book. I like it even more because of him and his spot on world views. I like reading about his stories because they were well written and straightforward.

I’ll tell you what The Spectacular Now is. It’s a realistic portrayal of addiction. I guess it’s no surprise to everyone that the great Sutterman is a drunk but that isn’t blatantly stated in the book, which I like. It’s a daring move from Tharp, letting the readers decide if Sutter is really a drunk or just bored out of his wits. He appears young and fun, a typical teenager in Oklahoma. He did noble acts to help others, true, but these noble acts always benefited him at some point.

And to me, I think Sutterman believed himself to be a savior of some kind. Whenever someone was out looking for a buzz, he was there to hook them up. He helped his best friend Ricky and partnered him up with Bethany. Then he found his way to Aimee and, after spending one morning tossing the paper route, decided the girl needed to be saved. Sutter sees everyone’s problems but his own – that’s what he is to me.

The Spectacular Now is not a love story, either. His relationship with Aimee unleashed the flake in me. I wanted them to work, I wanted Aimee to do the saving (she did try), I was hoping for Sutter to get his goddamn act together, but there’s a tiny part of me that knows where their relationship was going. For a moment I really thought Sutter learned to love Aimee but at the end you could still tell he was pining for Cassidy and would get back together with her if an opportunity presented itself.

I was also frightened of Sutter. After the disappointing daddy plot, they were on the road, Aimee and Sutter, and they were having this huge misunderstanding. The drunken rage was real and palpable. I was terrified for Aimee because I can feel Sutter shifting gear – from the funny, charismatic boy to this raging drunken abusive monster. Et voila, the BS realization he had after the accident was so obvious; I saw it coming and it felt a tiny bit forced.

The Spectacular Now tells a good story with believable imperfect characters. Sutter ending up alone in a bar was a spectacular ending. It was a blow nobody would expect or want (or both), hence the black hole in my chest, but that makes the book more powerful. If it concluded any other way, the entire book would be a sell-out.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended to: everyone.



eleanor & park

Eleanor & Park

Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park is the kind of book you will save from floods or fire or the end of the world.

eleanor & park

I first heard about Eleanor & Park when I stumbled upon John Green’s review. I was interested with the idea of first love, the cutesy type of first love and people didn’t want to stop raving about this book.

Now I don’t even know how to begin writing this because I’m a sucker for well-written novels with a horrible sense of foreboding in the run-up to the ending, especially because of the prologue, which makes you expect heartbreak right from the very start. I thought this would be Why We Broke Up all over again.

But the thing is, it wasn’t. Continue reading