Jellicoe Road (click for review). I so loved it that I had to get my hands on her other books. Unfortunately, my local library had just one of them, Saving Francesca. Fortunately, it was so good I didn't mind not being able to read the other ones right away.
Francesca is starting year eleven in a new school that used to be boys only, without any of her old friends and nobody she knows well to support her. On top of that, her lively, energetic mother suddenly cannot get out of bed anymore, and spends her days in her room. Nobody tells Francesca why or what is happening and she feels her world, and family, slowly unravel around her. Used to be passive, and always prefering to keep out of things, Francesca finds that she will have to fight for what she loves, and that more people than she thinks will love her back, unconditionally.
I do not know how Melina Marchetta does it, but I found myself three-quarters in this novel, with no real idea how I got there, and what exactly had happened besides the daily routines of the characters, but knowing that things had changed, things had moved, and I could not stop reading without knowing how it ended. There is a point where I realized I loved those characters, even the small unimportant ones. It just creeped up on me and suddenly I was in love, which I think is a testament to the author's storytelling skills. This book also explores really well what it is like to be a child with a parent who suffers from depression. I know, I've been there. And while it is different for everybody, each family being unique in its own way, there is an understanding of the confusion and pain that comes with something like this, which made me connect (and cry) with the story. That said, it is so clearly written, that anybody would or could understand what Francesca is going through, or at least empathize. It's a book about friendship, love and family and the things, however small, that bind us together. I am really looking forward to any other book by this author.