In the novel Saving Francesca, is Francesca a reliable narrator?

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Melina Marchetta’s novel Saving Francesca is written from the point of view of Francesca, a sixteen year old girl who has moved to a new school and is trying to cope with her mother’s depression. Having the main character relating the story allows the reader to feel close to Francesca as the reader can understand her thoughts and feelings. However, because the story is told through Francesca’s eyes the reader has to rely on Francesca’s assessment of a situation. In many ways Francesca is an unreliable narrator. She does not fully understand what is happening to her mother and many of her comments about her mother are incorrect. Also when Francesca describes her friendships at St Stella’s and her new friends at St Sebastian’s she is not always fair in her judgments. Our knowledge of Francesca’s past is revealed when she recounts memories of her past and sometimes she does not remember accurately what has happened to her and her family. While the reader is encouraged to empathise with Francesca, s/he also realises Francesca’s narration is at times inaccurate. Francesca reveals herself to be an unreliable narrator when she explains her mother’s illness because she is not fully aware of what is happening. When Mia is still in bed on the second day, Francesca questions herself and what people tell her “I’m not quite sure what ‘just a bit down’ means. I’m ‘just a lot down’ and I’m getting out of bed.” (p7). This shows that Francesca does not have the right information about Mia’s illness and is telling the reader what she knows. Francesca has always viewed her mother as the strongest person in the family “…no one in my family has ever pretended that my mother doesn’t make all the decisions.” (p2) so when Mia has a breakdown and stays in her bed with serious depression, it feels to Francesca as if her whole family is falling apart, which does become true when she and

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