Me? Starting yet another series of posts? Unheard of!! Well maybe at least in this case I will finally be more successful… Tbh though it’s not my fault thinking of what kinds of things you wanna post is more entertaining & easier than actually writing them down. But let’s get to the point.
A peach? Sure, my favourite fruit but in this case it also means: my favourite author. Hopefully I’ll introduce you in upcoming months to lots of them, but I started this blog with a review of one of Marchetta’s books & I will start this series with her as well. (Can you tell I adore her?)
Some quick facts: she’s Australian; she’s also a teacher; she has Italian roots; her first novel was published in 1992 & adapted into a movie in 1999. She also writes middle-grade books but personally I still haven’t tried any of those so I’m not gonna include them here, sorry.
Marchetta published 7 young adult novels (you could argue if her trilogy is really YA, but let’s go with that) & one adult lit book. She usually writes contemporary novels, but she also has a fantasy trilogy (Lumatere Chronicles) and a thriller/crime novel (Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil). So the question is, where should you start, right? And it really depends on what’s your go-to genre!!
1) If you’re a fantasy fan
you definitely should go for Lumatere Chronicles. Book one is Finnikin of the Rock & you can read my full review here. Each of the books centers a different character, though the pov changes a lot. They all tell the story of neighbouring countries in the same world and all the characters of course know each other. The first volume is about reclaiming your land & learning to trust others & fighting your prejudices.
2) If you’re a contemporary fan
then I would recommend starting with On the Jellicoe Road. I’m always a little bit wary about this though. And that’s because we get two time-lines in this book & they’re both connected, but at first it’s kind of hard to keep track of everything. Still, it’s worth the effort and it gets easier once you get used to the names!! And this is arguably Marchetta’s best novels, if I do say so myself.
On the Jellicoe Road is mostly about Taylor – a girl who was abandoned by her mother on the Jellicoe Road. We follow her at her school where she tries to make sense of her life & her past.
3) If you like shorter books
another solid place to start is Saving Francesca. It’s a lovely story about a girl who is trying to find her own place in the world, while her mother battles depression in the background. The only reason I don’t rec this in the first place, is that On the Jellicoe Road was written a few years later & is even better. So I want you to love Marchetta, before you start on her earlier stuff. :>>>
Now, a thing to keep in mind: there’s a companion novel to Saving Francesca and that’s The Piper’s Son. It features the same gang of teen characters, but it centers a different one (Tom, not Francesca) which means we get to know another family. There’s also going to be another companion novel with some of the same characters mentioned & centering yet another one (JIMMY HAILLER!!!) – The Place on Dalhousie. It’s set to be released in April 2019! So far we got the first chapter of it as a short story: When Rosie Met Jim.
One of the things I like the most about Marchetta’s writing is that there is always romance in her novels, but
the novels are never about romance.
Whatever they are about, the stories always focus on the characters and their journey. Romantic love just happens along the way, somewhere in the background, never really being the main arc of the book. And it is always portrayed as something you need to work at, what has its ups and downs, and what isn’t actually just all glamour all the time like 67% of YA books wants you to believe. Love in Marchetta’s books is build on a mutual trust & respect & friendship, and is only ever developed when the foundations are strong. It means: when a girl feels a boy does not treat her as his equal, she doesn’t settle, because she is and she knows it, and she knows she deserves good things.
The romantic relationships in Marchetta’s books are never used as a device for the main character to magically become cured of all their insecurities/anxiety either. Rather as something that helps the characters learn and grow. Because as every other life experience, that’s what relationships are supposed to do for a person, isn’t it?
And it’s never made to look as if romantic love is the most important kind of love there is. Quite the opposite really: time and time again Marchetta makes you remember how vital is love for your family and friends, and neighbours, and the world, and your pets, and your passions. And yourself.
Another – maybe even more important – thing about Melina Marchetta’s writing is that
she respects her characters.
You can see it in the way she writes them, in the love & care she pours into them, in how real they feel.
Her main characters are (almost always) girls (even if the book is named after a boy, it probably is about a girl). She lets them grow, make their own decisions, and make mistakes so that they can learn from them. They never do something simply to move the plot forward – each of their actions makes sense for them & is a result of how they view the world. This is what real humans do & this is what we should understand as “strong female characters”. The ones that aren’t made to be perfect and only there for the benefit of men. The ones that aren’t just expected to be silent and smiling. But the ones who are allowed to be whole and beautiful, and flawed, like usually only men are.
I could wax poetry about Marchetta all night but I don’t think y’all would be able to stay here with me lmao. So let’s end here, with me begging you to give her a shot!
Or maybe you’ve already read something by her & want to chat? PLEASE do!!!