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The novel follows 17-year-old Josephine Alibrandi, who lives with her single mother of Italian background, as she evolves through her final year of high school. She is introduced as a typical teenager, with issues of insecurity, peer pressure and maintaining relationships with those around her. The opening portrays Josephine as arrogant, as she is challenging the authority of Sister Gregory in religious education class of St Martha’s High School, a wealthy Catholic private school which Josie is attending on a scholarship. She feels isolated due to her illegitimacy and Italian family history, and greatly dislikes her strict grandmother Nonna. Josie’s father, Michael Andretti, whom she has never met, has just moved back to work in a Sydney law firm, adding to the drama in her life.
Josie’s friends, Anna, Sera and Lee, can relate to her as they all don’t come from wealthy families. However, Josie is slightly resentful about this and intensely envies Ivy Lloyd, the school captain, also known as Poison Ivy.
Chapter 4 introduces us to John Barton, who Josie wishes would accompany her to the first regional dance as it would make the entire school envious. However, at the dance, Josie becomes reluctantly attracted to Jacob Coote, who gives her a ride home on his motorcycle even though Josie risked getting into trouble with her mum. She learns about the death of Jacob’s mother, and how he dealt with it. Soon after, John Barton invites her to coffee, which she declines due to her budding romance with Jacob.
In Chapter 6, Josie meets Michael for the second time. Michael shows little interest in becoming acquainted with his daughter, telling Christina “I don’t want her”. Josie overhears this, and later expresses her anger towards Michael for leaving her mum when she was young, and not contacting them since. She warns Michael not to hurt her mum.
When Josie stays with Nonna for a night, she learns about Nonna’s life as a young woman in Sicily and how she was forced to move to Australia. As Nonna shared that her decisions meant that she would never see her family again, Josie finds herself connecting with her grandmother on a more intimate level.
In Chapter 8, Josie has a confrontation with Carly Bishop, one of the beautiful girls in school, which eventuates in Josie hitting Carly across her face and breaking her nose. Josie phones Michael’s office when Carly’s dad Ron insists that she is represented by her lawyer. Michael shows up to defend his daughter, and settles the ordeal in favour of Josie, who feels grateful towards Michael as he came to her rescue even though she previously told him to stay away.
The novel deals with the serious issue of suicide. In chapter 28, Josie finds out from Ivy that John took his own life. Both Josie and Ivy are deeply affected by this tragedy, and bonded over the common care for John.
Throughout the rest of the novel, Josie learns to appreciate and love her father more. She also acknowledges her deep love for her mother and grandmother, as well as an appreciation of her familial and cultural background. She accepts the differences that keep her and Jacob apart, yet is optimistic about overcoming these hindrances. She holds hope for the future, and recognises her incredible journey of love and learning.
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For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.
Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the nononsense wisdom of her mom, and the boysFor as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.
Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the nononsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.
Told with unmatched depth and humor, this novel—which swept the pool of Australian literary awards and became a major motion picture—is one to laugh through and cry with, to cherish and remember....more
Paperback, 313 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published October 5th 1992)
Looking for Alibrandi
0375836942 (ISBN13: 9780375836947)
Sydney, New South Wales (Australia)