Series or Stand Alone: Once again I say, both?
Summary: The award-winning author of Finnikin of the Rock and Jellicoe Road pens a raw, compelling novel about a family's hard-won healing on the other side of trauma.
Award-winning author Melina Marchetta reopens the story of the group of friends from her acclaimed novel Saving Francesca - but five years have passed, and now it's Thomas Mackee who needs saving. After his favorite uncle was blown to bits on his way to work in a foreign city, Tom watched his family implode. He quit school and turned his back on his music and everyone that mattered, including the girl he can't forget. Shooting for oblivion, he's hit rock bottom, forced to live with his single, pregnant aunt, work at the Union pub with his former friends, and reckon with his grieving, alcoholic father. Tom's in no shape to mend what's broken. But what if no one else is either? An unflinching look at family, forgiveness, and the fierce inner workings of love and friendship, The Piper's Son redefines what it means to go home again.
I picked The Piper's Son out because of the cover and Melina Marchetta's brilliant reputation in the young adult community. When I received it from the library and saw that it featured the characters from Saving Francesca, I quickly reread that. Upon noting its brilliance, I became very excited to read The Piper's Son. LOOK AT THAT COVER.
The Piper's Son alternates between Tom Mackee, one of Francesca's friends in the first book, and his young aunt Georgie, both of whom are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives after Tom's uncle and Georgie's brother died. After a drug and alcohol-induced accident lands Tom in the company of Francesca and his high school friends, all of whom he's worked pretty hard to push away, Tom must face everything wrong in his life. This includes Tara Finke, the girl that he ended up loving and did wrong after his uncle's death. Georgie must try to find a way to forgive her ex-boyfriend that cheated on her a while ago and is now the father of her unborn child.
So, you know, they've got some stuff to deal with.
Melina Marchetta's writing was beautiful AGAIN. I don't think I can say "well written" twenty times and have it count for a review. But just know that I'd like to.
Marchetta kept the core characteristics of the people in the books the same, but demonstrates that they have gained levels of maturity since we last saw them five years ago. Tom's character is the same sarcastic musician, but demonstrates great character growth. He has problems being close to people (i.e., mostly Tara Finke, but also Frankie) but grows to recognize it in this book and attempts to rectify it. The third person point of view is a change from the first person in Saving Francesca, but entirely works for the switch in principal character.
This book was totally different than Saving Francesca, but just as good. This one could be read as a young adult OR an adult book. Thomas and company are actually "young adults" at 22 and 23 years old, so I feel like this one could have a lot of crossover appeal. Plus, once again, you can read it as a stand alone.
Another stunner from Melina Marchetta! In The Piper's Son, she takes once again takes on friendship, but adds in grief to create a heartbreaking story about loss and finding the way back home.
As they say in Back to the Beach, one of my favorite movies:
"Whoever said you can't go home again?"
I think Marchetta would agree.
Rating: 5 - fantastic, shelf of favorites status.