Title: Looking for Alibrandi
Author: Melina Marchetta
Published: 5th October 1992
Synopsis: Multi-award-winning, a bestseller and made into an award-winning feature film, Looking for Alibrandi has become a modern classic.
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.
Looking for Alibrandi is a modern Australian classic, centred on Josephine Alibrandi who is in her final year at a prestigious Catholic school, and she’s on the precipice of adulthood and moving to university, where she wants to study to become a barrister. Yet this year she discovers the truth about her family, meets her father, Michael Andretti, and comes to terms with the HSC and the people at school, boyfriends and interschool rivalries between her school and other nearby schools amidst debates and dating, and forging her way forward. Her year is tinged with fights, tragedy, family conflicts and arguments about everything with her mum and Nonna as she searches for who she really is, and what her identity means to her. What it means to be an Italian growing up and living in Australia, and how she has been treated or accepted throughout her life.
Like many teenagers, Josie Alibrandi is at a crossroads of her identity and what she is seeking in life – which is perhaps why it has been studied so much at the year twelve level, or at least read during these final few years of school by so many teenagers because so much of what Josie goes through with her friends and at school is what many teens go through as well, yet there are a few experiences that not everyone will have been through, though representing these issues such as mental health struggles, family secrets and expectations, and the rigours of the HSC and everything else that goes with finishing school. It is the kind of novel that shows us that we are not alone, even if it feels like we are.
Since 1992, Looking for Alibrandi has been a book that speaks to the experiences we all go through – but not just when we’re in high school. We might experience some of what Josie goes through later in our lives, and in reading books like Looking for Alibrandi, we can begin to find a way to understand our own identity and place in the world, and during a turbulent time like the COVID-19 pandemic, it can reassure us that things will one day be okay, that we will work out who we are and what the world around us is like, even if it is constantly changing.
It is about the differences in society, and what happens when two societies and cultures come together and have to find a way to live alongside each other, where one generation wishes to remain separate from one culture whilst another is trying to find a way to bring both together as part of her identity, as a way to fulfil her identity, with the generation in between trying to do her best to understand both. At its heart, it is also about family and the importance of family – who make us who we are, but at the same time, remind us that we are also our own person, a unique entity made up from DNA, family influence, friends, and so many other factors. We are more than what everyone assumes we are, and through Looking for Alibrandi, we learn that we should be true to who we are.