Looking for Alibrandi -- Melina Marchetta
I've wanted to read Looking for Alibrandi ever since I read Saving Francesca (also known as the Best Book Ever--well, one of them). Slight problem being that it's never been published in the United States--I had to send away to freaking Canada to get this book at a price that wasn't insanely inflated.
Josephine Alibrandi is a 17-year-old Australian of Italian descent. She's a scholarship student at a prestigious Catholic high school--most of her classmates are very well-off. Most (if not all) of her classmates are also not illegitimate with an unknown father. (Josephine's mother refuses to tell anyone other than her daughter who the father is--although that becomes a moot point when he comes back to town for the first time in 17 years).
Like Saving Francesca, this book deals with serious issues (depression, class, Big Family Stuff) but it's still funny: The first scene involves Josephine taking (what seems to be) an extremely difficult test in class--until she's caught by Sister Gregory and it turns out that it's actually a quiz in Hot Pants magazine.
This passage caught me, not because it is necessarily representative of the whole book, but because of what it says about Americans (the pub. date is 1992):
And for a minute, no, just a second really, I wondered if he was right. I wondered if it was all one big useless existence. In that tiny second I wondered if I wanted to live this life any more. If I wanted to have a major heart attack every time I heard an American voice crackling over our news. Every time I hear it on the radio I think they've managed to involve us all in another horrible conflict. I wondered if I wanted to raise my children with that fear in their hearts. I figured that heaven must be a great place to go to get away from the madness, but I'm not ready for heaven yet and I don't think heaven is ready for me. The terrible thing about it is I find the horrible conflicts and injustices comforting compared to this place where we're supposed to go to one day where everything is perfect. So my second was up and I went back to liking this useless existence.
Holy Crap! It's a movie!! Too bad that I can't find it anywhere but Australia and the prices are bonkers. I wonder if Netflix will ever get it...