readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Guest Blog: Melina Marchetta

Like our May book pick, Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee, the novel Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta explores the relationship between a long-absent father and his teenaged daughter. For this and many other reasons, the postergirlz named Looking for Alibrandi a recommended read for the month of May. After I informed Melina of this, we discussed this month's theme, hope. Here's what she had to say:

A couple of years ago a blogger wrote a one sentence review of my novel, On the Jellicoe Road. It was bleak indeed. Death, suicide, teen pregnancy, abandonment, depression and the list went on and on. It was pretty awful to see your work reduced to a list of bleakness. What I wanted her to mention was the hope. That it was a story about redemption, love, community, identity, humour and friendship.

Hope is what I try to offer in all my work. In Alibrandi, despite the losses Josie faces in the end, she refuses to be a pessimist because she believes in the goodness of the individual person. In Francesca, on the last page Frankie Spinelli goes to school with hope in her heart regardless of the uncertainty in her life. In Jellicoe, Taylor Markham ends up in a house by the river that was built to bring solace. In Finnikin the two main protagonists may have a different view of homeland, but they both journey thousands of miles to bring a sense of place to a dispirited people. In The Piper's Son, I used a simple gesture between three generations of men to convey that perhaps Tom Mackee and his family and friends are going to be okay.

Ending a story with hope isn’t easy. Not because there's not enough around, but because it can come across clich├ęd or super sweet or as if you're saying that life has a simple solution. But I try anyway because I would never leave the reader without a safe place to go. That's not to say that I believe it has to be the prerequisite for all storytelling, but I've made it the number one rule in mine.

~ Melina Marchetta


Doret said...

The first word that comes to my mind when I think of Jellicoe Road is Love. Its all about love even in the beginning when there is loss.

I think your endings are hopeful possiblties not guarantees and so far from cliched and super sweet.

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Love this post. Hope is one reason I like YA so much. It often feels that bleakness in adult fiction is the rule--it's not art if there is hope! But I disagree with that. Often, the art of life is finding the hope in the hardest times. So here's to Jellicoe Road and Melina Marchetta, for showing us the way.

Little Willow said...

Hope makes me happy.

Josette said...

Well, I always try to believe in hope even when things seem almost hopeless. :) Thanks for the guest post, Melina! One of my favourite books is Looking for Alibrandi.

Melissa Walker said...

Melina, I love this too. Hope is hard to write, but it's such a welcome gift for a reader, I think. At least for me!

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Lovely, Melina. I do the very same thing, and my work is sometimes reduced to the bleak as well.

I sign LOOSE THREADS: "There's hope. Look."

Thank you for this guest blog!

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