During the course of her H. S. C year at St Martha’s, Josephine Alibrandi changes her understanding of the people around her, the people whom she loves including Nonna, Christina, Michael, John and Jacob in many ways she never thought possible. Throughout the novel, Josephine or Josie to the people close to her also changes from a selfish, uncaring teenager to a caring, more sensitive young woman whose feelings towards others become more apparent and noticeable. Her life is turned upside down in one year, and she learns to change, and adjust to change in others.
Long before starting year 12 at St Martha’s, Josie thought of her long lost father Michael as an enigma. “My mother had told me about him once and once only. I’d never heard his name mentioned since. ” When Josie first confronts Michael Andretti, the father she has never met, she is angry and upset, and wants to hurt him, like he did to her mother Christina over the past seventeen years. This feeling of anger she has towards him increases, and she feels a sense of rejection when she overhears him say, “I don’t want her”.
I do not want to love her” She confronts him and they have an animated argument before agreeing to stay out of each other’s lives. However this is one promise neither can or wants to keep, as they are both too curious, and know that they wanted to get to know each other. The bond between Michael and Josie, father and daughter doesn’t really arise until Josie needs Michael to save her from being sued by Carly Bishop and expelled from St Martha’s, for hitting Carly in the nose with her science book, causing her to break her nose.
As Michael comes to redeem her and make sure that she remains at St Martha’s, Josie feels proud to have a father “I knew how it felt walking alongside one’s father. It was a great feeling”. The bond between the two grows even further when Michael picks Josie up after her ten minute date with Jacob Coote and takes her out to dinner where he offers her a job at the law firm where he works. The closeness between the two develops as the novel progresses, and when Michael takes Josie to Adelaide to meet his side of the family, she finally feels that she is part of a family.
A mother, father and a daughter. Josie’s impression of Michael changes, from a sacred little 17 year-old boy who ran away with his family to Adelaide, leaving her mother alone and pregnant to give birth to, and raise her – to a caring, protective father figure. At the beginning of Looking For Alibrandi Josie is attracted to John Barton. “John, love of my life, Barton”, but as Michael Andretti and, especially Jacob Coote, enter the scene Josie’s feelings towards John alters.
Along with John’s ongoing complaints about life “This life is shit”, “I hate this shit life” Josie becomes less attracted to John. “I don’t know if it was Jacob, but I wasn’t attracted to him as I used to be”. John’s suicide affects Josie emotionally. Josie thought that John was always going to be there for her, that he was going to Sydney University with her, to study law together, to have coffees together. Josie thought that John was like the big brother she never had. Josie thought that John’s complaining about his life was just a phase in his life until John takes his own life. John’s dead. John Barton is dead”. At first Josie blames herself for John’s death “I should have realized,” but after many tears and reassurance from Michael and Christina, Josie discovers that it was his decision to take his own life. Josie knows that her problems are not that bad, and by ripping up John’s depressing poem she takes a more positive attitude to live her life and do something with it. Josie first thought of Nonna as an over caring, selfish grandmother who is only worried about her, and how it will affect her reputation in the Italian community.
As Looking For Alibrandi progresses, and Josie finds out about Nonna’s past with Francesco and Marcus Sandford. Josie begins to understand that Nona’s life wasn’t as easy as Josie first thought that it was. Josie finds out about how hard Nonnas early life was, with her older husband Francesco who took her away from her family in Sicily and out to Northern Queensland where she knew nobody and was treated badly “He treated (her) like one of his farm animals”. Josie realizes that Francesco can’t be her father “You were the one who told me about the four months you had to spend on your own.
Four months in summer from November to February”. But then today when everyone was joking about Mama being conceived on New Year’s Day, I thought it was impossible. How could Mama possibly be conceived on New Year’s Day when Nonno was up north and that her true grandfather is Marcus Sandford? “You slept with Marcus Sandford”. When she finds this out she wants to hurt, embarrass Nonna like she did to Christina when she found out that she was pregnant with Josie. However after hearing Nonna’s story and the way Francesco treated her, Josie begins to forgive Nonna and realizes that hroughout her life, Nonna was only trying to protect Christina the best way she knew how. Josie begins to see Nonna not as an over caring, selfish grandmother who is only worried about herself, and how it will affect her reputation in the Italian community, but as a mother who tried to protect her daughter the best way she knew possible. Josie and Nonna begin a new friendship together, promising not to tell Christina. Josie realises that she is “loved by two of the strongest women she would ever meet”.
As Josie proceeds through life, but more especially her H. S. C year at St Martha’s, Josie alters her thoughts on many people in many ways she never thought possible. As Looking For Alibrandi proceeds Josie realises that people aren’t always what they appear to be (John’s suicide, Michael Andretti’s re-appearance and Nonna’s deep dark secret), and that as time changes people also change. Some for the better and some for the worst. Josie has also changed and now understands who she is, and where she belongs.