Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fan Post: Why I Love the Grown Ups in Melina Marchetta's Books

Today's fan post is from Alex @ A Girl, Books and Other Things!


There is this awesome scene in Saving Francesca where Justine, Tom and Frankie discuss their parents, more specifically the things their parents tell them and I always remember how much I loved that scene because I remembered being 13 and having that exact same conversation with a group of friends, how we finished each other sentences about the usual lectures we got from our parents, wondering if they handed out a tape in the hospital telling them what to say. And last time I re-read Francesca; I remembered how that scene made Frankie’s parents seem that much more real to me.

And over the years and the other books, and growing up and currently being closer to 30 than to 20, I kept marveling at the grownups that populate Melina’s books. When it comes to YA, I’ve often found that the parents in the stories tend toward the LAME end of the scale; they are too ridiculous, too strict, too embarrassing or too clueless. They rarely come across as people, they are cartoons put there as plot devices, often to just embarrass or foil our intrepid protagonist.

That’s never the case when you read a book by Melina Marchetta. Frankie’s parents relationship, the over protectiveness of Siobhan’s dad and the activism of Tara’s parents in Saving Francesca added a whole other layer of dimension to the story, even if they weren’t in the page that often, they shone a lot of light on the reasons why their daughters were who they were.

In Looking for Alibrandi, I remember I was just as enthralled by Josie’s story with Jacob, as I was by Nonna and Marcus, and by Josie’s parents. It was one of the first times I remember getting invested with the adults of the story. I not only wanted Josie to be happy, I desperately wanted Nonna and Christina to be happy too, sometimes I think I wanted that even more than anything else.

In Jellicoe Road, it was Jude who stole my heart. Much as I love Jonah and Santangelo –and I love them A LOT - if I were to be completely honest, Jude is the one I would marry in a heartbeat, his story with Hannah was one of the things that helped this book feel real to me, so much pain and so much hope was woven in there, they mattered like Taylor and Jonah did.

And when I read The Piper’s Son, I loved seeing Gerogie’s story, and the story of all the grownups in Tom’s life, woven into what happened to the younger generation. I loved both voices and I felt for Georgie. In an odd way, I loved how she argued with her mother, because man, I’ve had those arguments with my mother too and they hit me in the gut.

For me, the Lumatere Chronicles took the adults in Melina’s books to another level. Particularly with Trevanion and Beatriss, I love how there is this little corner of the story that belongs to them alone and how much I need them to be happy.

I recently had a chance to read Froi of the Exiles and I have to say that me not being a fantasy girl, and having liked but not adored Finnikin, Beatriss and Trevanion were perhaps the biggest draw I had to reading Froi – then Froi as a whole grabbed me and left me thinking it’s one of the most brilliant books I’ve read this year, but it didn’t start that way.

Sorry if I have rambled on but I’m just trying to find the words to explain why I love these people so much. There is something so meticulous and detailed about the way Melina writes the grownups that makes me care for them in a way that few authors do. These people –parents, aunts, teachers and mentors – aren’t clueless cartoons. They care, they are human, and they are just trying to do the best they can under the circumstances.

It’s not easy being the grown up in a relationship, being the one someone is looking up to for answers, to help them through life. And Melina’s books show that with incredible compassion. Shows that the people in your life can screw up but that doesn’t mean they are not trying.

And that’s just another reason why I love the stories she tells.

A Girl, Books and Other Things


  1. This is such a wonderful post! I agree that most parents in YA novels are so out of the loop with what's going on in their children's lives. It gets rather annoying! But like you said, thankfully MM's adult characters are not like that at all. They're real and as likable and amazing as her teen & kid characters. :)

  2. Beautiful post! I so agree with you. Jude was amazing!

  3. It's so great when the adults in the story feel just as real as the teenagers, or even when the adults are actually present instead of conveniently missing or just plain clueless. I love stories where the whole cast of characters is important, and that includes the adults. Great thoughts! =)