Review: The Piper’s Son- Melina Marchetta

Passive Aggressive Paint Job.

 Synopsis from Goodreads.
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.
 

“But this beat is fast and even though his joints are aching, his arm’s out of control like it has a mind of its own and the sweat that drenches his hair and face seem to smother him, but nothing’s going to stop Tom. He’s aiming for oblivion.”

 

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
I feel so very stricken. How does MM do these things to my soul?

High Points.
Thomas Finch Mackee. Family. History. Honesty. Grief. Reality. Late night phone calls. Sydney International Airport. Attics. E-Mails. Impossible questions. Getting the right chord.

Low Point.
Two thoughts:
Ugh, yeah, I really don’t like Will.
and
WHERE WAS JIMMY?!

Hero.
I feel like I need to quote Tara Finke here before I start what will be known as the ‘Torrent of Love for Tom F. Mackee’.

“Thomas Mackee is the last bastion of arrested development and hormonal retardation.” (SF)

Thomas Finch Mackee is not a likeable character. If you met him in the street, you’d probably want to punch him or shake him or slap him or just yell at him until your lungs are raw because he is so infuriating. He makes terrible decisions, he has no definite goals, he’s callous and he’s an awful, awful, awful friend/son/nephew/boyfriend (nearly wrote ‘lover’ then, but you know that would have been a lie ;-) )
But from page one of this book (I’m ignoring Saving Francesca here because I think I made my love for him clear in my review ), I fell in love with him all over again, in spite of all his flaws. Maybe even because of his flaws.
He’s confused, he’s angry, he’s sad and he’s desperate and if this was any other book or any other writer I would’ve been like “Urgh, just sort your life out preferably somewhere where I’m not” but every time Tom was hurting, my heart completely broke and my gut wrenched and all of those t’other metaphors.
Thus is the power of Ms Marchetta. Witchcraft, I say.
I think it would be easy for people to not like Tom, and even though I’d think you were completely loopy I would understand, it’s important to remember that this book finds Tom at rock bottom and it is his journey through his grief and learning to forgive and love that makes Tom, and this book, so perfect in my eyes.

Georgie.
Ohh, Georgie. I loved how she was just as flawed as the rest of them and made no apologies. Her entire world is falling apart around her and she’s a mess, but she still gets there in the end. I love how the relationship between the past, the present and the future of her family were depicted through Georgie.
And those e-mails?
Sob.
Also, some of the exchanges between Georgie and Tom were absolutely hilarious. Their dynamic was really excellent.

Love Interest.
Tara Finke. The girl who “makes his heart beat fast”. It’s difficult to talk about Finke because, bar a few pages, she isn’t actually in this book as a real person but more of a memory and a blatant reminder to Tom at how far he had fallen and screwed up everything that was important to him.
But the rambling e-mails and late-night phone calls were highly entertaining and extremely sweet.

Jimmy.
Yes, he gets his own heading because there was a blatant Jimmy-shaped hole missing in this book. Although… I did notice on page 127 that Francesca says “Jim doesn’t want to be found just yet.”
Hm. Just yet, eh?
I’m going to hold out for a book purely about Thomas Mackee and Jimmy Hailler and Jonah Griggs and the road trip they go on to reconnect and bond. Also on this road trip they would inexplicably find themselves in Manchester. *shifty look*

Theme Tune.
OK, I think I need to create a Thomas Finch Mackee playlist because I have approximately a million songs I want to listen to with him while we’re sat in Georgie’s attic surrounded by all his crap link with him.
But I’ve narrowed it down to two.
Well… technically fourteen.
My theme album for him would be Urban Hymns by The Verve. Every song on this album is beautiful and raw and passionate and brutal and poetic and I like to think that Tom would appreciate the ridiculously amazing musical composition that goes into every single one of their songs. And also, I think the conflicts that were rife in between the band members have a certain kind of resonance with Tom’s character and his own destructive relationships.
If I had to pick one song from the album it would be this one.

And, um… this one.

And the other song choice stems from my thoughts about Tom’s relationship with his dad which stood out to me as the one that was most the poignant.
Marchetta’s portrayal of the breakdown of Tom’s relationship with his dad, who had been placed on such a high pedestal, was so perfectly executed that every scene the two of them were in together made me sob like a girl feel very sad. There was such a bitter-sweet tinge to every conversation and every look and every memory they had together.
So this song is dedicated to Tom and the piper and I hope that one day they will return to how they used to and Tom will want to follow his hero once more.

Angst Level.
10/10. There isn’t much I can say about this that I haven’t already mentioned or that I don’t want to spoil. This book doesn’t hold any prisoners and it doesn’t offer any easy quick-fix answers or solutions to the issues that are brought up.
This book is a refreshing change from the typical YA book, especially because not only is Tom older than the usual YA hero (he’s twenty one) but we also have the perspective of Georgie, who is in her early forties.

Recommended For.
Everyone. People who haven’t read Saving Francesca (or, people who have read SF, I just mean you don’t need to have read it because even though there are overlaps… this is Tom’s book). People who have a thing for bad boys. People who think it’s a crime to rhyme. People who come and go and talk of Michaelangelo. People who can read about Norton Anthologies without having heart palpitations (the horror… the horroooor). People who wish that there was a key on your computer to stop an e-mail being sent once you pressed ‘Send’. People who instantly think of watching Neighbours when they’re supposed to be writing essays when they read the word ‘pash’. People who wish more people would read this book so they didn’t think they were a mental when they announce that “It’s time to STD’.

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4 thoughts on “Review: The Piper’s Son- Melina Marchetta

  1. Oh man, I'm glad I clicked the blog link in your GR review. You are so right about the covers. It's like comparing a velvety (seriously, have you FELT that cover?) chocolate cake to a week old fruitcake.

    Also, let me know when you want to fly down to Australia and chant, “We.want.Jiiiimmmy” outside Melina Marchetta's house. I'll bring punch and pie.

  2. Sigh, just don't get me started.
    I keep looking at it supiciously whenever it's near me as if I'm willing it to change to monochrome and to have 'Tom' reach puberty.
    Seriously, he looks about twelve and I feel like I should be put on some kind of register.

    But yeah, I'm pretty much free for Operation HotDamnJim when you're ready.
    I do like pie.

    ps I think more covers should be velvety.

  3. Pingback: Mackee’s Music. « weartheoldcoat

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