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The Wonderful World of English Resources - Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta Study Guide

Looking for Alibrandi

by Melina Marchetta

A Study Guide to the Novel - Sample


“I’ll run one day. Run for my life. To be free and think for myself. Not as an Australian and not as an Italian and not as an in-between. I’ll run to be emancipated. If society will let me”

Josephine Alibrandi is seventeen, and in her final year of school. Dealing with her mum and the ways of her Nonna are daunting enough as she prepares for her exams. But Josie is about to discover real life gets in the way of her carefully-made plans. She suddenly has to heal with having her father around for the first time in her life, falling in love and uncovering her family’s secret background.

Despite all the turmoil, this is the year Josie discovers that emancipation doesn’t mean escaping from your past. Sometimes you need to face up to who you are in order to set yourself free…

Ideas to start thinking about the Issues

Respond to each of these in your exercise book

1. What are three things you would never say to your kids when and if you become a parent? Give reasons.

2. What are the best and worst things about being male? What are the best and worst things about being female? (have 3 responses for each) Everyone is to answer both questions.

3. There is a very thin line between love and hate. Write about a time when you crossed that line.

4. Write about your grandparents. Describe your relationship with them, what you like/dislike about them, and so on. Do you have an image of what your grandparents were like as children, adolescents, newlyweds, young parents? If not, try to imagine, based on photos, conversations, family reunions and get togethers.

5. What types of cultural pressure have you experienced before? Are there traditions your parents have that they have tried to pass on to you?

6. What do you think are 5 difficult things about having romantic relationships at your age?

7. Do you think pressure at home is more significant than the pressure you feel being at school, having to succeed? Explain.

8. How do you feel about the expectations your parents have of you academically? Do you think they are reasonable expectations? Do you have the same expectations of yourself? Explain.

Chapter 1 (p1-18)

1. Why do you think Josie felt ‘panic’ when she looked at the multiple choice options?
2. Why did Josie get into trouble from Sister Gregory?
3. “On the whole I make plenty of pledges that I don’t keep” (4) What does this statement teach us about Josie?
4. List 5 facts we learn about Josie on pages 5 and 6
5. “There were no Europeans like me” (8). What does Josie mean?
6. Describe the relationship that Josie has with her mother, Christina, based on what we learn in the opening chapter.
7. Why did Josie get “scared” on page (13)
8. What shocking news is Josie told by her mother? How do you think you would have reacted in her situation?
9. Why do you think Josie and her mother were laughing at the end of the chapter?


Match the vocabulary words with their meanings below. You are to define any words which are not defined here using your own dictionary. Write the words and their meanings in your books.

purse, triumph, revolt, reincarnation, guise, illegitimacy, incident, specimen, terrace, sarcastic, exaggerating, sweltering, pagan, panic, myth, socialite, serene

- A sudden, overpowering terror, often affecting many people at once.
- To be victorious or successful; win.
- ironic, caustic, satirical, sardonic : These adjectives mean having or marked by a feeling of bitterness and a biting or cutting quality.
- Oppressively hot and humid; sultry.
- One prominent in fashionable society.
- Outward appearance or aspect; semblance. False appearance; pretense
- Unaffected by disturbance; calm and unruffled. Unclouded; fair

(all definitions in this guide found on

Chapter 2 (p18-32)

Put the following events from chapter 2 in the order in which they took place. For each, also write a page reference.

a) Jacob told the audience “Let’s not vote. Let’s let anyone run this country”
b) Josie said she respects Lee more than any of her friends
c) Josie said that for 2 days she couldn’t help thinking about her father
d) Josie told Jacob she was the vice captain of her school
e) Josie said Poison Ivy was on the news that night
f) Josie said Sera had always had boyfriends ever since she was 14
g) Josie was questioned by Sister Louise about the time she arrived at Martin Place
h) Jacob asked Josie what she was going to speak about


Define using a dictionary:

purgatory, envy, prestige, reluctance, ampitheatre, explicit, griped, vague, divulge, cringing, riled, clinical, incredulously

Chapter 3 (p33-40)

Fill in the blanks using words from the word list. Write the passage in full in your books, using a different colour for the words you are adding:

Word list

estranged, respect, freedom, heart, lied, dawdles, Christina, emancipated, arrived, nags, Michael, thought, nerves, father

Josie ___________ on her way to her Nonna’s because she knows it gets on her grandmother’s ___________. She was force-fed when she _______________. Her grandmother ______________ her mother whenever they’re together. Her mother had been ___________ from her family after Josie had been born. Josie’s grandmother had ___________ to her, telling her that her ______________ had died. Josie’s Nonna says she has no _____________. She seems to blame this on Josie’s mother, _________________.

______________ arrived at her Nonna’s door. Josie was shocked. Her __________ was beating very quickly. He was not what she ________ he would be. Josie said she wanted _______________ to think for herself, to be _____________________.


Match the vocab words with their definitions below (any that are not defined below are to be defined by you using a dictionary. You are to write all words and meanings in your books):

regulation, affection, requisite, deliberately, vanity, articulate, discomfort, meddling, chauvinistic, emancipated

- Prejudiced belief in the superiority of one's own gender, group, or kind
- To free from bondage, oppression, or restraint; liberate.
- A principle, rule, or law designed to control or govern conduct. A rule or order prescribed for management or government
- To intrude into other people's affairs or business; interfere
- Required; essential, necessary

Chapters 4 and 5 (p41-63)

1. Why is “the love of my life” in speech marks?
2. Why does Josie like John?
3. What differences are there between John and Josie (mention their families in your response)?
4. Why does John think he was voted school captain?
5. “There was a darkness in his eyes that had nothing to do with colour” (46) – What is this implying?
6. What evidence is there in chapter 4 to suggest that John can be a sarcastic character?
7. Is Josie jealous of John’s relationship with Ivy? Explain.
8. Compare the first impressions we are given of John Barton and Jacob Coote (chapter 2)
9. Why do you think Jacob asked Josie to dance with him?
10.Why do you think Ivy looked at Josie before making her “same circle of friends” comment on p56?
11.Do you think John was genuinely disappointed he did not get to dance with Josie? Explain.
12. What do Josie and Jacob think of each other at the end of chapter 5?


palpitate, mock, converse, balmy, detest, slaughtered, humiliated, barrister, realist, popularity, pathetic, ambitious, winced, parasite, pretentious, individuality, cosmopolitan, feigned, besotted, paranoid, epitome, vanity, patronising, smug, earnest, obsenities, hysterical

Match the terms to the definitions below. Any that are not defined here are to be defined by you using a dictionary:

- To treat with ridicule or contempt; deride.
- Arousing or capable of arousing sympathetic sadness and compassion pathetic, pitiful, pitiable
- To give a false appearance of
- A representative or example of a class or type
- Infatuated, slang for `drunk'
- To dislike intensely; abhor.
- Claiming or demanding a position of distinction or merit, especially when unjustified. Making or marked by an extravagant outward show
- To shrink or start involuntarily, as in pain or distress; flinch.
- To engage in a spoken exchange of thoughts, ideas, or feelings; talk.
- organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host. One who habitually takes advantage of the generosity of others without making any useful return. One who lives off and flatters the rich
- Exhibiting or feeling great or offensive satisfaction with oneself or with one's situation; self-righteously complacent
- To lower the pride, dignity, or self-respect
- One who is inclined to literal truth and pragmatism
- Pertinent or common to the whole world. Having constituent elements from all over the world or from many different parts of the world. So sophisticated as to be at home in all parts of the world or conversant with many spheres of interest

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