The Piper's Son
by Melina Marchetta
published March 8th, 2011by Candlewick Press
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 favorite 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 realizes that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them. --goodreads
Review: Oh gosh, I bet I know what you're thinking right now: "wait a minute, another Melina Marchetta book?!"
YES. Another Melina Marchetta book. Honestly, if you've read my other reviews of Jellicoe Road and/or Saving Francesca, then you know that there are not enough good things I can say about Ms. Marchetta's books. They. Are. Effing. Amazing.
So... naturally when I found out there was a "sequel" of sorts for to Saving Francesca, I HAD TO HAVE IT! (If you're a bibliophile and you're reading this, then you know what I'm talking about....hopefully...) While Jellicoe Road is still my absolute favorite (the absolute bastion of great writing--hee hee reference to Tara Finke), I still freakin' loved this book!
This book was written about two characters: Tom (aka Thomas Mackee) and his aunt Georgie. This is the first of Marchetta's books that I've read where it was written in 3rd person---now I'm normally not a huge fan of 3rd person narratives because I have a hard time connecting with the characters, but believe me, that was not a problem here. Marchetta had me sympathizing, laughing, and crying with the characters in no time! Her book is just that powerful. It literally tugs at your heartstrings and you really can't help but be moved by the emotion and love in her books. But it's not even as though the emotional moments, the tearjerker ones, were blatantly obvious--not like a Love That Dog death scene or even The Notebook's kissing in the rain scene--Marchetta creates little moments, specific, undetectable lines throughout the book that really don't get to you at first, but boy, when it accumulates, it is a whopper of an emotional punch.
Tom is a character you may have hated in Saving Francesca, but, trust me, you will surely love him by the end of this novel. He definitely has some butt-hole-ish moments which would make you want to smack some sense into him, but as the novel progresses, he really recovers from the nadir of life that he was in, from all the hurt he's been through, and you learn just how decent and disarmingly sweet he is. There were multiple moments when I just wanted to give him a big bear hug.
I also really enjoyed reading about Georgie's life and her problems. Yes, she is in her 40s and is pregnant, and it's not really like I can relate to that, but the strange thing is, I kind of did relate. Not to the whole pregnant part obviously, but after learning about her past, her situation, and of course, Sam, you can understand why her decisions, her circumstances were so gray---Nothing was a clear cut black-or-white.
I absolutely adored the simple fact that Marchetta chose to continue the story of the gang from Saving Francesca--I loved seeing how Francesca and Will fared, five years later, loved learning the the story of Tom's life, and just plain melted at reading about the inner workings/feelings of their friendship as it grew over the years.
This book was little confusing at first because you're introduced to so many family characters and literally, you are in medias res with little explanation of who anyone is, but then Marchetta works her magic and by the end, you will be able to know/keep straight every single character in this book.
The author really stretches the limits of YA fiction, considering the co-protagonist is a 40-ish year old pregnant woman--with lots of drama going on in her life. Marchetta has a schtick for tackling tough issue in her books---depression, death, abandonment, drugs, etc. In fact, if you think about it, the plot line of this book can actually be considered...soap-opera-ish. But it isn't actually. She crafts a real story about loss, grief, redemption, forgiveness, and love.
Read this. 'Nuff said. Actually, I basically wrote paragraphs telling you why you should read this so "'nuff said" really isn't enough.... but now I'm done--OH! Except for now, I would really really really like another sequel--one about Jimmy! That would make me one VERY happy camper!
Some favorite quotes
“Maybe she'd always been there. Maybe strangers enter your heart first and then you spent the rest of your life searching for them. ”
"They used to talk about you a lot," Ned says. "Frankie said you had all waited forever to meet each other and that it was the real thing as far as friendships went. 'He'll come back to us,' she'd say. I heard every story in the world about every moment you all had and I remember once you came in and they pointed you out. 'That's him. That's our Thomas.'"
“Don't let anyone take care of you. Can you maybe leave that for me to do? I mean, take care of you? Feel free to take care of me in return... because I think I'll need you to do that.” ---Tom to Tara
“Her voice whispering love soothes him. They'd never done that before. Weren't that type of family. Except now he doesn't know what kind of family they are. What word is it that can define them? What would they call his family in the textbooks? Broken? He comes from a broken home. The Mackees can't be put back together again. There are too many pieces of them missing.”
"P.S. I don't recall the word dick or head being in Frankie's text that day you turned up at the Union. As you pointed out, I have a brilliant memory, and the exact words were, I think we're getting our Tom back." --Siobhan's email