Though not particularly climactic or life-changing, Looking for Alibrandi was a sweet read with a well-developed, believable protagonist.
One thing I loved about Josephine is that she is flawed. She's a teenager trying to explore herself and her world, and there were quite a few times I wanted to smack her - but it was never in "that" way, like where you think some characters have Too Stupid Too Live Syndrome. She was a character you could relate to a bit, and those close to her - Michael, Jacob, Nonna Katia, Kristina - were as well-developed too. Though I suppose John's death could have been a bit more...heart-wrenching or suspenseful, somehow, it still made me sad and felt a bit...fitting, in the context of the novel. Marchetta built up to it pretty appropriately, and it did have the effect of maturing Josephine without coming across as preachy.
I also liked that despite the constant references to religion (since Josephine attends a Catholic school), Marchetta never came across as preachy or anything. It was just a part of Jose's character and life, and that was that.
I look forward to reading more of Marchetta's work, as I know she is highly acclaimed among YA literature, and I'm starting to see why after reading this debut novel.