The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: The Piper’s Son

Author: Melina Marchetta

Published: March 8, 2011 (in the US)

Number of Pages: 336

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Melina Marchetta’s brilliant, heart-wrenching new novel takes up the story of the group of friends from her best-selling, much-loved book Saving Francesca – only this time it’s five years later and Thomas Mackee is the one who needs saving.

Thomas Mackee wants oblivion. Wants to forget parents who leave and friends he used to care about and a string of one-night stands, and favourite uncles being blown to smithereens on their way to work on the other side of the world.

But when his flatmates turn him out of the house, Tom moves in with his single, pregnant aunt, Georgie. And starts working at the Union pub with his former friends. And winds up living with his grieving father again. And remembers how he abandoned Tara Finke two years ago, after his uncle’s death.

And in a year when everything’s broken, Tom realises that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them. [From Goodreads]

Quote:

[Tara to Tom]”…So either find yourself a good punk band or move on, Tom. Because it kills me to say this, but you’re actually a tiny bit gifted.”

“How would you like it if I said to you, ‘It kills me to say this, but you’re actually a tiny bit beautiful’?” he had asked, pissed off.

She hadn’t said anything then, which was rare for her.

“Would you have been lying?” she said, after a long silence.

“Lying about what?”

More quiet.

“About me being a tiny bit beautiful.”

“[Crap] yeah.”

But later that night he had sent her a message on MSN.

Of course I was lying. The ‘tiny bit’ part anyway.

Review:

I know I just reviewed Saving Francesca, so you’re tolerance-bucket is already full to the brim with Melina Marchetta praise, but if you could, I don’t know, cut holes in the bottom of that bucket so I can pour more into it unceasingly, that would be great.

I’m only partially joking.

The Piper’s Son has way more swearing than I’d like, and there’s one scene that I will never read again, but the story beneath is so endearing it’s ridiculous. Thomas Mackee, the goofball, seemingly-shallow-but-deeper-than-most-of-the-boys-you’ll-ever-meet friend in Saving Francesca, was one of my favorite characters. How can you resist sarcastic and clever humor like his? I love the dryness of it – and the fact that he can be so soft when he wants to be. When I found out that The Piper’s Son focuses on him, I was sold.

This book, in my opinion, is even darker and more devastating than Saving Francesca. I thought the Spinellis (Francesca’s family) were a mess, but they don’t even compare to the Finches and Mackees. When you start this book, you might as well be plunging into ice cold, dark water. In fact, that’s where you’d have to go to feel like Tom. Don’t be scared away by the unpleasantness of the situation. It’s worth it. It’s always worth it to cheer for people as they struggle to succeed at life when locking themselves in a room and living off Ramen Noodles would be easier.

This book is so complex, and I’d say it deals with the happiness of thirty characters. It’s incredible how much is stuffed into it. I’ll admit that I got lost occasionally and had some trouble piecing together the bits of the past Tom revealed throughout the book. Still, there’s this beautiful feeling of satisfaction at the end. I felt the struggles and growth so acutely that I almost feel as though I should be proud of myself for making it through.

The Piper’s Son alternates semi-frequently between Tom’s point of view and his aunt Georgie’s. Georgie happens to be 42, and Tom is 21. In other words, this book is definitely not the sort that would appeal to your everyday twelve year old. They wouldn’t appreciate it as much. It’s primarily about people who have lived through a lot, have been forced to handle more than their share of heartbreak and frustration, and are working on making fewer mistakes tomorrow. It’s about getting life in order.

The Mackees and Finches are a family that needs to pull themselves together and stop dreading their memories. I love that they manage to eventually do this through family and friends – through love, really – and that’s just how things are dealt with in Saving Francesca as well. Nothing ends up perfect, but it’s so very satisfying.

Essentially, this sequel is a lot tougher to swallow than Saving Francesca. It’s always sad to see that people have grown apart as they grew older, and a lot of the characters are in that situation (at least in the beginning). Tom makes many of the same mistakes over and over again, but he takes the necessary steps (such as figuring out what an idiot he’s been and contemplating how to deal with that tendency toward idiocy). I also love that he’s not all bad. Never. Almost everybody on the planet has redeeming qualities and a cause for their actions, and he’s not to be excluded. There’s never any doubt that he’s a good person. I just kept waiting for him to realize it.

Overall, The Piper’s Son is an expertly executed, slightly depressing, heart-wrenching, and extremely endearing story.

P.S. Please excuse this really terrible review! Go read Audrey’s. Really.

6 Commentsto “The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta; Review”

  1. Your review is SO awesome, seriously 🙂 *beams* I love it when we agree on books we love. Aaah, I just want to run in circles waving around this review!!!

  2. oh my gosh

    what a gorgeous review!

    I KNOW! Marchetta really is something else.

    I kind of love Tom more for his flaws even though he is so dense at times. He feels like an absolutely real person (as do all the mackees)

  3. I NEED TO READ SOME MARCHETTA! good thing i’ve got jellicoe road comin in the mail 😀

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