Saving Francesca Maier relates the story of the summer holiday 14 year old Francesca spends in Berlin with her parents and their old friends. Her father is from Berlin but she has never been there and is looking forward to finding out what life in Germany is like. The trip gets off to a bad start when there is an incident at another airport meaning she and her mother almost miss their plane. Add this to the fact that her father is not at the airport in Germany to meet them and the story is already set up to be a tense one.
The thing which stood out for me in this book was the acutely observed relationships, particularly between the adults. The author creates a sense of uneasiness as I was aware there was tension between them but was not sure why, or what was causing that tension. The reader is put in a similar position to Francesca, not knowing the whole story. Slowly, some of their secrets come out with some very unexpected revelations. As the reader, you begin to understand events, realising there are secrets from her parents’ past they would rather she didn’t know. Francesca doesn’t have this understanding meaning she is faced with some puzzling scenarios.
Francesca gets herself into some sticky situations with the bravado and impetuousness of youth. There were times I was cringing for her and times I was genuinely worried as she seemed to put herself in danger. With the four adults seemingly caught up in their own issues, she had much more freedom to explore what was an unknown city than I would have allowed my daughters at 14.
The author’s own knowledge of Berlin really adds to the sense of place throughout the novel, showing how the city’s past and present intertwine. Saving Francesca Maier is full of complex characters and is an intriguing and thought provoking coming of age story.
My thanks to the author for inviting me to read her book and sending me a copy to review. Saving Francesca Maier is available in paperback and e-book formats. You can order a copy online here: Saving Francesca Maier
From the back of the book
Can you leave the past in another country?
Francesca Maier knows little of her father’s home country or her parents’ life together before she was born. A summer in Berlin brings the past – and its secrets – alive. Adrift in a foreign city, she finds an unexpected friend in east Berliner Antonio – but what will he sacrifice to save her?
‘Saving Francesca Maier’ probes the secrets every family hides and the choices we make in a volatile world.
Contains writing prompts and author interview, making this the perfect Book Club read.
About the author
Claire Wingfield graduated from her English degree at Cambridge University in 2002, and has worked in books and publishing ever since. She lives in Edinburgh, where she runs a busy literary and editorial consultancy, is mum to two book-loving children, and is writing ’52 Missions for Children’s Writers – (Learn a Circus Skill, Go Out in Disguise, and 50 Other Ways to Inspire Your Children’s Novel)’. She has also created the Complete Book Marketing Toolkit to help writers organize their promotional activity.