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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:

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