Josephine Alibrandi, a Catholic girl, narrates the novel in her final year of High school. She attends St Martha's, a wealthy catholic school in Sydney's eastern suburbs. Her academic scholarship ensures her place at the school as she is not as well off as the population of largely wealthy Anglo-Celtic girls that attend the school. Her Italian origin has been the reason for much persecution toward her in her life. Her background against the monied origins of her peers also provides much source of angst for Josie.
She lives in the inner-city suburb of Glebe with her single mother, who takes care of her. Their rather small dwelling is the source of some embarrassment for Josie.
Josie is essentially on a journey of discovery throughout the novel. This journey reveals much about herself, her family and the many lessons that she is yet to learn in her life. Her search for her own cultural identity is coupled with her struggle as a poor student among many wealthy ones.
Josephine also has a number of self-esteem issues that manifest themselves throughout the novel in her perceptions of the world. These issues are further complicated by her family situation. Issues that are dealt with include:
Josie is searching to discover the true nature of her family history. She comes to learn that much of what she has been told in incorrect. A number of issues that both she and her mother deal with are explained by some of her family circumstances.
Her grandmother, father and mother all have a significant amount to teach her about herself and about herself. Each in their own way has the power to impart some personal experience that will assist Josie in her journey. She does come to learn, however, that these realisations can do much harm. Overall, however, her journey in regard to her family is a cathartic experience that solves many issues she was forced to deal with.
Josie's father, Michael Andretti, has only recently come back into l