Looking for Alibrandi was written in 1992 by Melina Marchetta, and was published by Knopf Books for Young Readers. It was Marchetta’s first book, and won the Children's Book Council of Australia Award for Book of the Year: Older Readers in 1993, the Kids Own Australian Literature Awards for Secondary in 1993, a Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Older Readers in 2000, and a West Australian Young Readers' Book Award (WAYRBA) for Older Readers in 1994, among several other awards.
The novel was adapted into a movie in 2000 and won the Australian Film Institute Award for best film and best adapted screen play (written by Marchetta) that year. The film was directed by Kate Woods.
Looking for Alibrandi follows Josie Alibrandi, a rebellious teenager who lives with her single mother and grandmother, as she navigates her final year at a strict Catholic high school. At the same time she handles her first serious relationship, issues with her family and her estranged father coming back into her life. The novel deals heavily with the topics of family, death, depression, cultural diversity and relationships.
Marchetta was inspired to write the novel in part by the story of her grandmother, who immigrated to Australia from Italy and left her family behind. Josie’s grandmother also immigrated to Italy prior to the start of WWII, and Marchetta wanted to share the story of three generations of women who bonded over their cultural backgrounds, and formed strong relationships in spite of their differences.