The novel, Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta, focuses on a 17 year old teenager who has an Italian background called Josephine Alibrandi. Josephine is really two different people at the beginning and the end of the book. In the beginning, Josephine is overdramatic, poised to react to her Italian background and her illegitimacy. At the end of the book, Josephine began to achieve emancipation. She has learnt that she has blown her problems out of proportion, that not everyone is about to execute her for being Italian and illegitimate. Josephine’s interaction with the other characters has brought this about. She faced quite a number of challenges in her final year. They include the arrival of Michael Andretti and her change of perspective and attitude towards Nonna Katia.
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In the beginning of the novel, Josephine’s attitude towards Nonna was very atrocious. Despite the fact that she disliked Nonna, she still has to come to her house every afternoon after school. One of the reasons that she disliked coming to Nonna’s house was that she despised the idea of being force-fed every afternoon of her life (Quote: “I was force-fed when I arrived. Force-fed like every afternoon of my life” page 34). Josie found Nonna very irritating. Every afternoon Nonna kept mentioning about how untidy Josie is and just to return back the favor Josie would say “It’s the fashion” (page 34) just because that annoyed Nonna so much.
However, as time past, Josie found Nonna’s secret. That is the relationship that Nonna had with Marcus Sandford went further than Josie had been told. Although Josie was suspicious and asked Nonna whether she was in love in with him, Nonna wouldn’t acknowledge it (Quote: “Were you in love with him?” Josie asked. “Don’t be silly, Jozzie. I was married.” page 199). At last Josie discovered the truth. In close proximity to the end of the novel Josie realizes that there was much more than love between Nonna and Marcus. She realizes that Nonna had slept with him. After finding such a shocking truth, she was unquestionably furious at Nonna for treating her mother the way she did and all the time she had done worse (Quote: “You had the hide seventeen years ago to treat Mama the way you did when all the time you had done worse.” page 217).
At the end of the novel, Josephine began to understand Nonna’s feelings towards Marcus. Nonna had said that Francesco treated her like one of his farm animals (Quote: “Your grandfather Francesco treated me like one of his farms animals”. page 222). She had learnt to be more accepting and tolerant towards Nonna although Nonna had made a wrong decision according to the Italian community’s perspective. Nevertheless, Josie had changed and had begun to not care what other people think about her, her family and her illegitimacy. From then on, her perspective and attitude towards Nonna changed dramatically although she understood the challenges that Nonna had to go through living with Francesco. By understanding Nonna now, she hopes that one day her granddaughter can try to understand her (Quote: “And so that one day, my granddaughter can try to understand me, like I’m trying to understand Nonna.” page 202).
Furthermore, Michael Andretti’s arrival to Sydney surprised Josie immensely. Initially, Josie thought that it was no big deal and that they could handle him (Quote: “But, we can handle it, Ma, there’s no big deal.” page 16). At their first meeting, Michael asked whether Josie is Christina’s daughter. It wasn’t a pleasant meeting. Josie was very rude towards Michael. She wanted to make Michael feel bad. She did that by saying “My mother had me young” (page 39). After that statement, Michael’s face went pale and he looked at her at absolute shock. Their second meeting wasn’t any better, if anything it was worse. Josie’s insolence and hatred towards Michael was shown in the conversation that they had at the barbeque. She said that she doesn’t want anything to do with him (Quote: “How dare you think that I want to be in your life!” page 69). Therefore, they made an agreement that they should stay out of each other’s lives (Quote: “A promise. You keep out of my life, I keep out of yours.” page 69).
Nonetheless, they broke the promise or more appropriately, Josie broke the promise. In the middle of the novel, one significant incident happened at school. Josie found herself sitting in the principal’s office for hitting Carly Bishop with a textbook. Carly’s father is taking this matter to court, therefore Josie was forced to call Michael Andretti to come to school and help her to solve this problem. Miraculously, he came and he sorted out the problem. This proves that Michael has some sort of interest in Josie and her life. She felt proud walking past her classmates with a father (Quote: “I walked past my classmates with Michael Andretti beside me and for a few minutes I knew how it felt walking alongside one’s father. It was a great feeling.” page 90).
Subsequently, their relationship started building up. For example, when Josie met Michael on the road after her “ten minute” date, he said that he was going to visit her to go out for a pizza (Quote: “I had decided to come and visit you. I thought you’d like to go out for a pizza or something.” page 125). At that time, he offered her an afternoon job as a photocopier and helping the secretaries and Josie agreed. From then on, she started to comprehend Michael’s characteristics and personality. She knew that he would have come back if only he knew that Christina had gone through with the pregnancy (Quote: “You would have come back. I know you would have.” page 129). The same goes with Michael, he wanted to know more about Josie. He wanted to be a part of her life (Quote: “I’m not sure if I can love you ever, but I want to know you. I want to be part of your life.” page 128). At the end of the novel, Michael had decided not to go back to Adelaide, instead he bought a house in Balmain (Quote: “I’m not going back. I’ve bought a house in Balmain.” page 244). This showed that he wants to be a part of Josie’s life and wanted to know her better.
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