Melina Marchetta

Presentation by Allison Ameduri

Australian writer, born in 1965 in Sydney


  • Italian-Australian and grew up in a multi-generational home
  • Left school at 15 due to a lack of confidence in her academic abilities
  • Worked at a bank and travel agency before entering university at 25
  • Taught English, Italian and History full-time for ten years at a city high school for boys
  • Now a full-time writer, including writing credits for television and adapting film screenplay for Jellicoe Road
Penguin Presents Melina Marchetta

Common Themes & Elements:

  • Identity
  • Community & Belonging
  • Adrift Characters
  • Present, Developed Family and Adults
  • Intergenerational Stories
  • Complex, Flawed Characters
"I kind of cheat and stick to the formula ... Big family dynamics. Broken communities. A past that needs to be revealed before a future can be possible." -MM

Right for Your Teens?

  • Introspective writing
  • Straightforward prose
  • Not-action oriented, character-oriented
  • Issues in novels (alcoholism, drug-addiction, depression, rape) but not "issue" books)
  • Non-graphic violence, sex
  • Range from short contemporary reads to longer fantasies
  • Generally 14+ up

Young Adult Books:

Looking for Alibrandi

1992 Australia, 1999 USA


Breakout novel in Australia, written before she went to university. Marchetta also adapted it into an award-winning screenplay.


Summary: Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the no nonsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.



"Here in Australia, [Looking for Alibrandi] has dominated my writing life and there are many people who think it’s the only novel I’ve ever written. That’s because it was a film and it was studied on the Senior syllabus. I suppose it touched a nerve. I think it’s my weakest work, but it’s had the most profound affect on my life and I never take for granted an Alibrandi fan. " -MM

Awards and Recognition

  • BILBY - Books I Love Best Yearly (Australia) : Older Reader
  • Booklist Editors' Choice - Books for Youth - Older Readers Category: 1999
  • Children's Book Council of Australia: Children's Book of the Year Awards: Older Readers
  • KOALA - Kids Own Australian Literature Awards : Older Readers
  • WAYRBA - Western Australian Young Readers' Book Awards : Avis Page Award
  • WAYRBA - Western Australian Young Readers' Book Awards : Older Readers
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: 2000
  • YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults: Book to Movie: Ripped From the Pages (2015)

Saving Francesca

2003 (AU), 2004 (USA)


Summary: Sixteen-year-old Francesca could use her outspoken mother's help with the problems of being one of a handful of girls at a parochial school that has just turned co-ed, but her mother has suddenly become severely depressed, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is.


"To a certain degree I wrote about my mother’s breakdown in Saving Francesca. Different women. Different lives, and I was a different age than Francesca, but the one thing my mum and Mia have in common is that they are both so resilient." -MM

Awards and Recognition

  • Children's Book Council of Australia: Children's Book of the Year Awards: Older Readers
  • Children's Book Council of Australia: Notable Australian Children's Books: Older Readers
  • Parents' Choice Awards - Fiction: 2004
  • School Library Journal Best Books: 2004
  • WAYRBA - Western Australian Young Readers' Book Awards : Older Readers
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: 2005
  • YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults: What Makes a Family? (2008)

The Piper's Son

2010 (AU), 2011 (USA)

Sequel to Saving Francesca


Interestingly enough has dual narrators, one 21 year-old and his 42 year-old aunt. Yet it is still classified as YA.


Summary: After his favorite uncle's violent death, Tom Mackee watches his family implode, quits school, and turns his back on music and everyone who matters, and while he is in no shape to mend what is broken, he fears that no one else is, either.

Awards and Recognition

  • Children's Book Council of Australia: Notable Australian Children's Books: Older Readers
  • Library Journal Best YA Lit for Adults
  • YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults: 2012

(On the) Jellicoe Road

2006 (AU), 2008 (USA)


Not for the reluctant reader, takes about half the novel for the mystery to unravel and to have past and present make sense.


Summary: At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader in her school's annual territory war, and Taylor's guardian, Hannah, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.


What do you want from me?" he asks.
What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him.
More.

Reviews

“The book uncompromisingly starts with the fragments unconnected, leaving readers teased by a mystery they can’t even begin to piece together even as they’re enticed by the taut intensity of the atmosphere and Australian author Marchetta’s impeccable, longstriding style”

BCCB Starred review


“This is Marchetta’s most sophisticated novel; it opens cryptically and is imbued with subtle mystery that crisply unfolds in uncluttered, evocative prose.”

Australian Literary Review

Awards and Recognition

  • Michael L. Printz Award
  • WAYRBA - Western Australian Young Readers' Book Awards : Avis Page Award
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: 2009
  • Queensland Premier's Literary Awards Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2007)
  • Cybils Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2008)

Finnikin of the Rock

2008 (AU), 2010 (US)
1st Book in Lumatere Chronicles Trilogy


Summary: Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escaped live as roaming exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps. Finnikin joins forces with an arrogant and enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dreams will lead the exiles to the surviving heir and a way to regain the land of Lumatere.


“It’s against the rules of humanity to believe there is nothing we can do.”


Emphasis away from battles and more on people: "...more interested in what happens later... Happily Ever After doesn’t come the day after an end-of-war ticket tape parade, or after the Berlin Wall comes down or Apartheid is abolished in South Africa. What does happen is a whole lot of people need to renegotiate who they are. That’s what I’m interested in exploring." -MM

Reviews

“ Magic, romance, intrigue, and adventure all play their parts as this dense, intricate epic unfolds, and flawed, memorable heroes fight for their kingdom’s redemption.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)


“A rousing and complex plot filled with political intrigue.”

Kirkus Reviews

Awards and Recognition

  • Aurealis Awards (Australia): Best Young Adult Novel
  • Australian Book Industry Awards: Book of the Year for Older Children
  • Blue Hen Book Award (Delaware): Teen Readers
  • Children's Book Council of Australia: Notable Australian Children's Books: Older Readers
  • School Library Journal Best Books: 2010
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: 2011
  • YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults: Adventure Seekers (2012)

Froi of the Exiles

2011 (AU), 2012 (USA)
2nd Book in The Lumatere Chronicles Trilogy


Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home. Or so he believes. He has been trained by the Lumateran Guard and is fiercely loyal to the royal family, but when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds. Here he encounters a damaged people who are not who they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad Princess.


  • YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults: 2013

Quintana of Charyn

2012 (AU), 2013 (USA)

3rd Book in the Lumatere Chronicles Trilogy


Froi must travel through Charyn to search for Quintana, and protect her and the future of Charyn against those who will do anything to gain power. Loyalty to family and country conflict, and Quintana of Charyn and Isaboe of Lumatere come face-to-face in a showdown that will result in heartbreak for one and power for the other.


  • YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults: 2014