Let Us Now Praise Melina Marchetta

Let Us Now Praise Melina Marchetta

Saving Francesca. Jellicoe Road. The Piper’s Son.

Melina Marchetta is also the author of Looking for Alibrandi, The Gorgon of the Gully, Finnikin of the Rock, and yet-to-be-released Froi of the Exiles, but I haven’t read all these yet (Gorgon is a picture book) because I feel much richer knowing I have some Marchetta banked up.

A beguiling writer. Tricky. Her first person is the opposite of cloying and manages a distance that makes it less ME ME ME than most first person.

Did you know they are making Jellicoe Road into a film?

Did you know being an Italian in Australia is its own subculture onto itself?

And the characters!

Thomas Finch Mackee is my dream Australian yob.

Will Trombal is the epitome of the problematical hot-nerd paradox boyfriend.

Tara Finke is the nerdy, soap-boxing me in high school.

Francesca Spinelli is nothing, nothing, nothing like me and still I liked her.

Taylor Markham is a chess-playing heroine who cries when she’s being a badass, which is often, because she’s not built for bravery, yet is very, very brave.

Jonah Griggs is the caged lion boy, capable of violence but learning to be gentle. Is this unrealistic? Is he really a nightmare on two rugby-playing legs? Dunno. Don’t care. There is something supremely comforting about a boy like Jonah Griggs looking out for a girl like Taylor Markham.

The Husband often says to me when I get all spun-up on young adult book issues that there are just stories, and some of them happen to be about young adults, so stop shitting yourself blind about it and just WRITE.
It seems to me that The Husband has been whispering into Melina Marchetta’s ear all these years. Because they are superb stories which just happen to be about young people, no agenda, no Life Lessons, no bullshit.

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