At that time, we didn’t have the sophistication of such language or market intention. So, when I was gifted a book from someone who thought I looked like the girl on the cover, it really was just dumb luck that I found myself reading Melina Marchetta’s beautifully crafted debut, Looking for Alibrandi. I associated the world that Marchetta crafted so expertly to the then high school world around me, but beyond this; a world where I existed more fully, and an invitation to understand my place within it.
That sounds like fan-girling, even as I write it. But this was the first time I fell in love with a novel– I obsessed over it. I raved about it to anyone who would listen, but I lent it out begrudgingly. Actually, I adopted some pretty strong ‘my precious’ Gollum vibes about it.
There’s an authenticity to Marchetta’s style that takes her narratives from words on a page to what feels like a conversation with an old friend. Alibrandi has stood the test of time stacked up against a range of social changes and decades of passing fads, not purely because this was and is an excellent piece of writing, it’s more than that; Looking for Alibrandi is a timeless narrative of gathered truths.
With a writing background that spans newsprint, radio, television and online, Crystal is a publicist and editor for Larrikin House, and provides literacy support to secondary students.
Crystal is an aspiring novelist and will release her first children’s picture books in 2022; she is an Allen & Unwin Faber Academy alumnus.
This is part of a new series at Faber Writing Academy looking at what makes a great debut book. If you are interested in getting a start on your own debut novel, we will soon be launching Kickstart Your Novel: The Opening Chapter and Beyond, which will run 9 September – 11 November. Details and bookings are here.