Melina Marchetta explores the discoveries and changes encountered by an teenager, through the eyes of Josephine Alibrandi. Josephine is a 17 year old girl, with Italian heritage, throughout her life she has faced racial discrimination, further more she has encountered many offensive comments directed tat the scandal of her illegitimacy. Throughput her final year in high school, she comes to understand who she is and comes to understand what is important to her. For the whole of the novel Melina Marchetta demonstrates the concept of discovery.
Josephine Alibrandi is faced with many discoveries by the end of the novel. Of the countless discoveries made by Josephine, perhaps the most significant is the discovery of herself and her identity, other important discoveries made are the finding of her father, the uncovering of her grandmother Katia’s secret and the realization of her love for Jacob Coote. A fundamental event in the novel is the meeting of Josephine and her father Michael Andretti; this is the start of the discovery Josephine makes about who her father is.
All through her life Josephine has been faced with many hardships due to her being illegitimate, because her mother was pregnant out of wedlock. Josephine resents the fact that she is illegitimate, and also resents her father who she believes had abandoned her mother who suffered immensely, and was thrown out of her own home. Josie first meets Michael in her grandmother Katia’s house, when she comes to understand the he is her father, she realizes that he is nothing like imagined also later stating that the meeting was also nothing like she had expected.
An essential event that leads to the bonding of father and daughter is when Josephine calls Michael to help her on the case of breaking Carly Bishop’s nose. Josephine calls to Michael out of desperation, even after telling him to stay out of her life. Michael Andretti comes to help her and when walking out Josephine remarks “… I knew how it felt to walk alongside one’s father it felt great’’ (pg 90) this implies that Josephine felt proud to walk by her father’s side.
As she bonds with her father Josephine’s resentfulness and hatred towards him decrease, when she come to terms with the fact that he did not know that Christina had gone through with the pregnancy “… I wasn’t aware of your existence till recently’’, after meeting with Michael after her unsuccessful date with Jacob, having talked to him, she states that “You would have come back” notifying that if he had known Christina was pregnant he would have come back from Adelaide to help her.
Josephine discovers she cannot blame Michael for all the hardships she has faced as she was illegitimate and throughout the novel she grows to love him. At the beginning of the novel Josephine bears hatred towards her grandmother Katia, to whom she refers to as Nonna, “ I realized I loved her as much as I hated her”, this remark made by Josephine explains how although at times she could hate her grandmother for the way she kept nagging her she still loved her.
One of the main reasons for Josephine’s hatred towards her grandmother is because of the way she believes that her grandmother treats Christina. Throughout the early stages of the novel Josephine complains that Katia does not treat Christina kindly, Josephine says she hates her grandmother for calling Cristina a bad mother and for never having anything nice to say to her mother.
As the novel progresses Josephine comes to accept and understand her grandmother more, however when at her mother’s birthday party Josephine’s cousin Robert states that Christina must have been conceived on New Years day, Josephine recollects her grandmother telling her that her grandfather Francesco was not present during New Years, Josephine comes to a sudden realization that Francesco was not Christina’s father. Josephine uncovers the truth that Katia has kept hidden, Josephine discover that Katia slept with Marcus Sandford an Australian who helped Katia and her family.
Josephine’s first reaction is anger “our lives like our names are lies. ” This statement made by Josephine implies that their lives just like their names are a scandal. Josephine gradually forgives her grandmother after speaking to her. Josephine learns that Francesco never loved her grandmother, “… he treated me like a farm animal”, and Josephine understands that Katia stayed with Francesco to protect her family from what other people would say about them.