THE PIPER'S SON by Melina Marchetta

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Piper's Son is a beautifully written novel, that picks up the story of Tom Mackee from Melina Marchetta's earlier novel, Saving Francesca, five years on. He's just moved back in with his aunt, Georgie, after his flatmates throw him out of the house. He's still grieving after the death of his uncle in a bomb blast in London two years before, and is still regretting walking away from Tara Finke. The novel also tells the story of Georgie, who's pregnant at 42 to a man she's no longer with.

The Piper's Son isn't as plot driven as On The Jellicoe Road or Finnikin of the Rock, and I think it's a lot more mature that Looking For Alibrandi. Third person narrative usually makes me feel really distant from the characters, but in this instance I think it worked really, really well - all of the characters were so realistic, and the family felt so real to me. The book just flowed, and everything was so... I can't even think of a word to describe it. It was like I knew these people. Even though most of the time I wanted to hit Tom (and then Georgie... I mean, Georgie, Sam could have done a bit more grovelling, don't you think? You were way too lenient on him), I still loved all the characters. If you like your books character-driven and with a focus on family, you'll love this one. (And, oh! The emails worked so well. Joe was probably my favourite character, in spite of the fact he was dead for the entirety of the book.) This is a book that will make you cry. Well, it made me cry. And all the music references, did I mention them? Paul Kelly and the Waifs for the win. It was wonderfully Australian.

The Piper's Son struck me as more of an adult novel than a young adult novel - not that anything was inappropriate for an Upper-YA audience (there are sexual references and moderate swearing and maybe a sex scene, I can never really tell, everything goes right over my head) but that the characters and situations that they were in didn't seem like they would appeal as much to teenagers as they would to adults. The two central characters are 21 and 42, and they are living distinctly adult lives. Not that I wouldn't recommend it to teenagers - certainly mature teens will love it - but that I'd mainly recommend it to adults. It is unspeakably wonderful. Read it.

Q: Have you read any Melina Marchetta novels? Which is your favourite?
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