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Melina Marchetta's stunning debut novel Looking for Alibrandi is one girl's story of her final year at school, a year she sets herself free. Josephine Alibrandi is seventeen and in her final year at a wealthy girls' school. This is the year she meets her father, the year she falls in love, the year she searches for Alibrandi and finds the real truth about her family – and the identity she has been searching for.
A moving and revealing book, unusual for its honesty and its insight into the life of a young person on the brink of adulthood. Multi-award-winning, a bestseller and made into an award-winning feature film, Looking for Alibrandi has become a modern classic.
Panic was my first reaction to the multiple choice options which lay on
my desk in front of me. I glanced at the students around me before
turning back to question three. I hated multiple choice. Yet I didn't
want to get question three wrong. I didn't want to get any of them
wrong. The outcome would be too devastating for my sense of being.
So I began with elimination. 'D' was completely out of the question as
was 'A', so that left 'B' and 'C'. I pondered both for quite a while
and just as I was about to make my final decision I heard my name being
'I think you mean 'I beg your pardon' don't you, dear?'
'I beg your pardon, Sister.'
'What are you doing? You're reading, aren't you, young lady?'
'Um. . . yeah.'
'Um, yeah? Excellent, Josephine. I can see you walking away with the
English prize this year. Now stand up.'
So my final school year began. I had promised myself that I would be a
saint for this year alone. I would make the greatest impression on my
teachers and become the model student. I knew it would all fail. But
just not on the first day.
Sister Gregory walked towards me and when she was so close that I could
see her moustache, she held out her hand.
'Show me what you're reading.'
I handed it to her and watched her mouth purse itself together and her
nostrils flare in triumph because she knew she was going to get me.
She skimmed it and then handed it back to me. I could feel my heart
'Read from where you were up to.'
I picked up the magazine and cleared my throat.
''What kind of a friend are you?' I read from Hot Pants magazine.
She looked at me pointedly.
''You are at a party' I began with a sigh, ''and your best friend's
good-looking, wealthy and successful boy, friend tries to make a pass.
Do you: A – Smile obligingly and steal away into the night via the back
door; B – Throw your cocktail all over his Country Road suit; C –
Quietly explain the loyalty you have towards your friend; D – Tell your
friend instantly, knowing that she will make a scene'.'
You can understand, now, why I found it hard to pick between 'B' and
'May I ask what this magazine has to do with – my religion class, Miss?'
'Yes, dear,' she continued in her sickeningly sarcastic tone. 'The one
we are in now.'
'Well. . . quite a lot, Sister.'
I heard snickers around me as I tried to make up as much as I could
along the way.
Religion class, first period Monday morning, is the place to try to
pull the wool over the eyes of Sister Gregory. (She kept her male
saint's name although the custom went out years ago. She probably
thinks it will get her into heaven. I don't think she realises that
feminism has hit religion and that the female saints in heaven are
probably also in revolt.)
'Would you like to explain yourself, Josephine?'
I looked around the classroom watching everyone shrugging almost
They thought I was beaten.
'We were talking about the Bible, right?'
'I personally think that you don't know what we've been talking about,
Josephine. I think you're trying to fool me.'
The nostrils flared again.
Sister Gregory is famous for nostril flaring. Once I commented to
someone that she must have been a horse in another life. She overheard
and scolded me, saying that, as a Catholic, I shouldn't believe in
'Fool you, Sister? Oh, no. It's just that while you were speaking I
remembered the magazine. You were talking about today's influences that
affect our Christian lives, right?'
Anna, one of my best friends, turned to face me and nodded slightly.
'Well, Sister, this magazine is a common example,' I said, picking it
up and showing everyone. 'It's full of rubbish. It's full of
questionnaires that insult our intelligence. Do you think they have
articles titled 'Are you a good Christian?' or 'Do you love your
neighbour?'. No. They have articles titled 'Do you love your sex life?'
knowing quite well that the average age of the reader is fourteen. Or
'Does size count?' and let me assure you, Sister, they are not
referring to his height.
'I brought this magazine in today, Sister, to speak to everyone about
how insulted we are as teenagers and how important it is that we think
for ourselves and not through magazines that exploit us under the guise
of educating us.'
Sera, another friend of mine, poked her fingers down her mouth as if
she was going to vomit.
Sister and I stared at each other for a long time before she held out
her hand again. I passed the magazine to her knowing she hadn't been
'You can pick it up from Sister Louise,' she said, referring to the
The bell rang and I packed my books quickly, wanting to escape her icy
'You're full of it,' Sera said as we walked out. 'And you owe me a
I threw my books into my locker and ignored everyone's sarcasm.
'Well, what was it?' Lee grinned. 'A, B, C, or D?'
'I would have gone with him,' Sera said, spraying half a can of
hairspray around her gelled hair.
'Sera, if they jailed people for ruining the ozone layer, you'd get
life,' I told her, turning back to Lee. 'I was going to go for the
cocktail on the Country Road suit.'
The second bell for our next class rang and with a sigh I made another
pledge to myself that I would be a saint. On the whole I make plenty of
pledges that I don't keep.
ISBN: 9780140360462 ISBN-10: 0140360468 Series: Pink Popular Penguin Audience:
For Ages: 13+ years old For Grades: 8 - 9 Format:
Number Of Pages: 288 Published: 5th October 1992 Publisher: Penguin Books Australia Country of Publication: AU Dimensions (cm): 19.9 x 13.3
Weight (kg): 0.26
Edition Number: 1
Melina Marchetta's first novel, Looking for Alibrandi, swept the pool of literary awards for young adult fiction in 1993, winning the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Award (Older Readers) among many others. In 2000 it was released as a major Australian film, winning an AFI award and an Independent Film Award for best screenplay as well as the NSW Premier's Literary Award and the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award.
Melina taught secondary school English and History for ten years, during which time she released her second novel, Saving Francesca, in 2003, followed by On the Jellicoe Road in 2006, and Finnikin of the Rock in 2008. Saving Francesca won the CBC Book of the Year Award for Older Readers. On the Jellicoe Road was also published in the US as Jellicoe Road, and it won the prestigious American Library Association's Michael L Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2009. In 2008, Melina's first work of fantasy, Finnikin of the Rock, won the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel and was shortlisted for the 2009 CBCA Award for Older Readers.
Melina's most recent novel, The Piper's Son, was published in 2010 and has been long-listed for the Miles Franklin Award and shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards. Melina's novels have been published in more than sixteen countries and twelve languages.
Melina lives in Sydney, where she writes full-time.