Publisher/Year: Candlewick- March 2010
Genres: Contemporary YA
Other Books From Author: Jellicoe Road, Saving Francesca, Finnikin of the Rock (series), Looking For Alibrandi
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Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”
The Piper’s Son takes place 5 years after Saving Francesca. It’s a companion novel but it can TOTALLY stand alone though I do think reading Saving Francesca is a GREAT idea anyways. It focuses on Thomas Mackee and his family who have endured a tragedy. This tragedy has ripped the family apart and Tom himself has quit all the things he loved and pushed everyone else away and is pretty much at an all time low. He’s forced to confront the brokenness when he gets kicked out of his apartment and has to live with his pregnant aunt and gets a job where a couple of his former friends work.
I’ve said it before in my Melina Marchetta reviews but I’ll say it again — there are books and there are Melina Marchetta books for me. I don’t know what energy of the universe she harnesses to write these amazingly perfect books that make you feel like you’ve never felt these feelings before but at the same time they resonate so, so deeply. I DON’T KNOW but, like always with her novels, I’m completely rendered speechless after reading The Piper’s Son and it just keeps simmering in my mind long after I finish.
1. I loved returning to Frankie and the gang: This takes place about 5 years after Saving Francesca and the main focus is on Tom’s life rather than Frankie’s. Some of the group is still around and some of them are off in different places. I loved the bits and pieces we got that filled in the pieces of what went down in those 5 years. Selfishly I wanted more to know every last detail of those 5 years but alas that would be a series now wouldn’t it? Tom has been outside of the group after losing his uncle Joe and has pushed them away and made some really bad decisions. I loved watching the group try to rally for Tom like they did Frankie in Saving Francesca but also show him tough love that he needed. This group has my heart!
2. I loved learning more about Tom Mackee: Oh my god I love him and I was always so curious about him in Saving Francesca as we got to know him. We learn of his romance with a familiar character from the group & we learn what he had been up to when the tragedy happened to his family. We see the effects of all that and how he’s given up everything that made Tom, well, Tom. I loved learning more about his family background and how he saw things from back in the Saving Francesca days and how he interacted with the others/saw the others. I fell in love with Thomas Mackee for sure even when he was unlikable and downright hard to deal with.
3. The brokenness of Tom and his family GUTTED me: The brokenness of Tom’s family was just so heavy on my heart the whole time I read. The tragedy that befalls Tom’s family is one that just collides with their world and shatters everything into a million places. I could feel the weight of this fractured family especially when juxtaposed with all these memories of the family BEFORE. They are THAT family that you wish you could be a part of. So close, so beautiful. I also loved that we got chapters from Tom’s aunt which filled in some of family history but also told of her pain and loss and how it still affects her.
4. I’ve read a lot of books dealing with grief but few come close to the layered and gut-wrenching grief in this book: The layers of grief in this book, man. My heart feels a bit differently after finishing this one because I feel like it was hammered and twisted and punted across a field. Grief is a really, really hard thing to explain, as someone who has grieved a devastating loss myself, but somehow Marchetta just nails it. Just brilliantly and right through the heart.
Re-readability: Oh yes.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Of course.
The Piper’s Son is yet another Melina Marchetta masterpiece. A beautiful and gut-wrenching story of loss, the enduring bonds of family and friendship amidst tragedy and the kind of healing that can only come with the help of the ones we love. Thomas Mackee, you will not recede back into the pages of the book ever.