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.In the interest of full disclosure, Melina Marchetta wrote one of my all-time favorite books, “Jellicoe Road,” so I’m maybe just a tiny bit biased when it comes to her books. But not that biased, because her other books are all ridiculously awesome in their own right. Marchetta’s just one of those straight-up, undeniably talented writers. And “The Piper’s Son” is AMAZING. Lemme just say it again, in case you some how missed it: AMAAAAAAAZING.
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.
It was a fairly painful book to read, to be honest. Tom and his family are hurting so much from what’s happened to them, what they’ve done to each other, and what they’ve done to themselves, that it made me ache for them. And sometimes I couldn’t see how they would ever get over the things tripping them up and find their way back to being the close family they were. But that just made every little step they made in the right direction that much more powerful.
There are two stories in this book: Tom’s and his aunt Georgie’s. Really, sometimes I just wanted to strangle Tom, because he can be such a tool. He would just do or say stuff that had me going, “What is WRONG with you?!? Why are you doing/saying that!?!” But fortunately, Tom’s an innately likeable character, so that combined with his ability to recognize he’s being a jerk and feel sorry about it, totally redeemed him in my eyes. Georgie, on the other hand, I loved from the beginning. The whole storyline with her and Sam was so bittersweet and worth it (chapter 29—holla!). I could’ve read a whole book just about those two. Which is not to say I didn’t love Tom’s story, because I did, I just liked Georgie’s a tiny bit more.
But, yeah, this book was so powerful. It deals with forgiveness, guilt, family, friends (Tom’s friends are so, so awesome—three words: Brisbane road trip), fixing past mistakes, and a whole bunch of things that combine to make this book so completely wonderful. And it’s not just a superficial attempt to deal with these themes, either—it’s not completely tied up with a bow at the end or anything. It all feels so REAL.
So definitely read this book. It’s classified as YA, but I don’t know if I’d put it in that genre since Tom’s 21 and Georgie’s 42. But no matter the genre, this book is for sure worth the heartache. Because, you know that feeling you get when a book does something so perfectly that it kinda feels like you’ve got butterflies in your stomach?—this book gave that feeling so many times.
P.S. This book is a companion novel to “Saving Francesca,” but you don’t have to have read that one to understand this one. But you should read “Saving Francesca” anyway, since it’s fantastic.