Looking for Alibrandi - Melina Marchetta

 Title : Looking for Alibrandi
Author : Melina Marchetta
Publisher : Penguin
First Published : 1992
Pages : 226

We grew up in the midst of the snobs of St. Marthas and discovered that somehow brains didn't count that much. Money, prestige and what your father did for a living counted. If your hair wasn't in a bob or if your mother didn't drive a volvo, you were a nobody

Josephine Alibrandi (Josie) is a seventeen years old Australian with Italian descent. She lives with her single mother, Christina and occasionally visits and fights her conservative grandmother, Katia. She knows who her father is, Michael Andretti, a barrister with good reputation, but Andretti doesn’t even know that Josie exists. Her status as a fatherless child who was born out of wedlock is such a big news in her society. Josie often feels that her Italian blood makes her feel doesn’t belong in her private school where students mostly are rich Australian kids, whereas she’s just an ordinary student with scholarship. 

But Josie’s life is not so ordinary after all.  The end of high school is coming near and she has to prepare for an important exam. She’s suddenly caught between two charming guys with completely different background, John Barton and Jacob Coote, and as if life is not hard enough for Josie, his long lost father comes back into her life.  While trying to figure out her relationship with her father Andretti, she discovers a lot of thing and secret about herself, her family, her friends  that turns out to be different with what she thinks all this time. This is a chronicle of a young girl trying to find her self and the meaning of her life.

Please, God, let me be accepted by someone other than the underdog

This is one of my favourite book growing up. My first time reading the Indonesian translation version of this book was like ten years ago, back then when I was a junior high school student. And I decided to reread this book because I love the story. I feel that I can really relate to Josie’s life, so it’s a bit tough for me to review this book objectively. If there was a book about the story of my life, it would be this one. Being a half Chinese with a pair of wide eyes, so called Balinese with zero knowledge of its culture, and live in Bandung with no capabilities of speaking Sundanese makes me feel out of place all of my life.  Just like what Josie feels.

My hair is a legacy from my father. It's curly and need restraining all the time

Anyway, let’s stop talking about me and review this book instead. The characters are very strong.  Marchetta did a great job to make the characters feels so alive. My favorite goes to John Barton. His character is quite complex, with a perfect poster kid personality outside but troubled soul with myriad imperfections inside. I thought there would be huge conflict between Josie and Michael Andretti when they finally meet, or a few tearjerkers page that would make my emotion going ballistic, but apparently, no.  Their characters won’t allow something like that. Michael Andretti is one calm and composed man, while Josie is full of teenager arrogance when it comes to communicating with her long lost father. However, as one of the main theme in this book, Josie and Andretti relationship still feels very touching even though without any sadness or tears of joy.

This book discuss a lot of issue. Friendship, love, family, lost of loved ones, suicide, you name it, you get it here. But don;t worry, even though there’s a lot going on in this book, it doesn’t feel too much. Marchetta managed to serve everything in the right portion. And last but not least, the twist in the end! Oh My god, I didn’t see that coming! Really,  few chapters before the ending is a total jaw dropper.

 I feel connected to this book on a such personal level. I was on the peak of hating myself when I first bumped into this book. But after finished reading this book, I got a lot of message about accepting my self. And knowing that there was a book that spoke a problem that resembled mine made me thought that my life wasn't so miserable after all.

  Finally, if you are new into Young Adult books, I strongly recommend you this book. This book will get you hooked into the world of Young Adult genre.
You can't hate what you're part of. what you are. I resent it most of the time, curse it always, but it'll be a part of me til the day I die.

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