Looking for Alibrandi Summary, Themes, Characters & Synopsis

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Looking for Alibrandi Summary, Themes, Characters & Synopsis

About the Book-Looking for Alibrandi

TitleLooking for Alibrandi
AuthorMelina Marchetta
GenreYoung Adult, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary
Publication Year1992
PublisherPenguin Australia/Orchard Books
No. of Pages260 Pages
SettingSydney, Australia
ProtagonistJosephine Alibrandi (Josie)
ThemesIdentity, Cultural Heritage, Family, Love
ISBN 0140236139


The main characters of “Looking for Alibrandi” by Melina Marchetta are:

  1. Josie ➜ The main character, a 17-year-old girl.
  2. Christina ➜ Josie’s mom.
  3. Michael ➜ Josie’s dad.
  4. Nonna Katia ➜ Josie’s grandma.
  5. John ➜ Josie’s crush.
  6. Jacob ➜ Another boy Josie likes.
  7. Ivy ➜ Josie’s best friend.


The themes of “Looking for Alibrandi” by Melina Marchetta are:

  1. Finding Yourself ➜ It’s about a girl trying to understand who she is and where she belongs.
  2. Family Matters ➜ Family is important, and this story shows how it can be complicated and loving at the same time.
  3. Love and Friendship ➜ The book explores the ups and downs of teenage relationships and friendships.
  4. Cultural Roots ➜ It’s about being proud of where you come from and how it shapes you.
  5. Acceptance ➜ The characters learn to accept themselves and each other, flaws and all.


Looking for Alibrandi is a story about a 17-year-old girl named Josie. She’s Italian-Australian and lives in Sydney. Josie is trying to figure out who she really is and where she fits in. She has a lot of questions about her family, her friends, and love.

The book is about her journey to understand herself and her family’s past. It’s a story that many people can relate to because it’s about growing up and finding your place in the world.


Melina Marchetta’s first book, Looking for Alibrandi, was released in 1992. It addresses concerns of cultural identity, family, and behaviors passed down through generations and is geared toward a young adult audience.

Australian teenager Josephine “Josie” Alibrandi is 17 years old. Josie, who is of Italian ancestry, is being brought up by her mother Christina, and her Nonna, her maternal grandmother Katia. Josie is cynical and snarky. When her grandma attempts to get her to value her Italian background, she rejects it and feels ashamed. Josie gets into a fight with a teacher at the Catholic school she attends early in the narrative. Although Josie claims to get along well with her mother, she dislikes her attempts to be severe. She also dislikes Nonna’s propensity to disapprove of everything she does and try to impose some cultural customs. Josie doesn’t speak to her father, and neither her mother nor her grandma are particularly open about it.

The majority of the other students at Josie’s school are in her opinion snooty and cliquish. Carly Bishop, a stupid and prejudiced girl, is the one she hates the most. The three people she is closest to are Sara, Anna, and Lee. John Barton, a gorgeous star athlete at their brother’s school and the son of a wealthy family is the object of Josie’s affection. Josie believes John has everything, and their socioeconomic strata are too different to be reconciled. Josie’s mother tells her that her father, Michael, is visiting when she comes home from school. The following day at school, Josie meets Jacob Coote, a student from a different school. 

When he gives a speech in public, despite being from a working-class background, he attracts her attention since he is confident and endearing. Even though they constantly argue and don’t appear to have much in common, Jacob invites her out on a date. Even though each of their first few dates fails, she finds herself captivated by him.

Her father, a barrister who is in town for a case, meets with Josie. Josie is quite harsh to Michael, who claims he didn’t know Christina had a daughter with him. Michael is offended, and they decide to avoid one other’s lives out of rage. But as soon as Josie gets upset with Carly and smacks her with a textbook, she rapidly breaches her word. Josie asks Michael for assistance after Carly’s father threatens to sue her and her mother in court. Josie acknowledges she might have been unjust to him after he resolves the situation at the school and saves her from the repercussions of her actions. She accepts Michael’s offer to work at his legal firm and gets to know her father better.

Josie & Jacob continue their relationship, but once she meets John Barton, they become friends. Josie and John start having in-depth discussions, during which Josie learns that despite all of his ostensible advantages, John is unhappy. She is told that he is miserable and that his father wants him to become a politician like him, which John despises. Josie is appalled and startled by John’s suicide. In addition to saving her from an attack on the way home from John’s burial, Jacob is there to console her and recognizes that she has recently lost a friend. This solidifies their devotion to one another.

When Josie confronts Nonna about her behavior at her grandmother’s house, Nonna admits to her that she was quite harsh with Christina when she got pregnant since she had experienced a similar circumstance herself. She was really attractive and wed a man she didn’t love. She had an extramarital relationship and became pregnant as a result. Nonna was wed, but she didn’t love her husband; she only stayed in the unhappy union for the sake of her reputation and the welfare of her daughter. 

She was therefore quite upset when Christina became pregnant and vented her resentment toward her daughter and grandchild. She gave her entire life up for her daughter, and even though she was unaware of it, she believed Christina was wasting that sacrifice. Josie thinks her Nonna is a hypocrite and is quite upset to hear this.

But when Josie reflects on what she now understands, their connection gets better. She starts to think of Nonna as a strong lady who had to make difficult decisions and realizes how challenging it was for her. She starts to consciously embrace some of Nonna’s practices and viewpoints. Josie rejects Jacob’s advice that they should have sex before getting married because she is reminded of Nonna and the life lessons she can gain from both her mother and grandmother.

In the middle of all this turmoil, Josie must take her high school examinations, which will have a significant impact on her future. She relies on her family and Jacob in new ways, something she had never done before, and she succeeds in her examinations while also discovering a new appreciation for her roots and family.

About the Author-Melina Marchetta

Full NameMelina Marchetta
Date of BirthMarch 25, 1965
Place of BirthSydney, New South Wales, Australia
GenreYoung Adult Fiction, Contemporary Literature
Famous Works-Looking for Alibrandi (1992)
-Saving Francesca (2003)
-On the Jellicoe Road (2006)
-The Piper’s Son (2010)
-The Lumatere Chronicles series
Writing StyleRealistic and emotionally resonant

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