Review: The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

7 June, 2012 Reviews 10 comments

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Piper’s Son by Melina MarchettaThe Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
Series: Standalone
Published by Viking Australia on March 1st 2010
Pages: 328
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Author
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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.

The thing about Marchetta is she gets teenagers.  I mean, she really gets them.  She understands them and writes about them in all their awkward, gangly, awesome, rough, raw, angry, passionate glory.  That really is quite an achievement.  I say that because I met her once.  Out of the hundreds of things I could have done including:

1) Thanking her for the signed copies she sent me.

2) Begging her for an ARC of Quintana.

3) Telling her how much she’s inspired me and how much I adore everything she writes.

What I ended up doing was grinning like a fool for ten minutes while she chatted to my friend.

But I have to say, she’s not some hip young thing out partying every weekend.  What I’m saying is that I suspect she may be a knitter.  What I’m saying is that she’s probably not driving around in a pimped out car drag-racing teenagers and smoking illicit substances is what I’m saying.  You never know, she could be.  But I don’t think she is.

But in a sea of YA that infantilizes teenagers by making their characters so mature, responsible, pure, thoughtful, PURE creatures who don’t swear or smoke and maybe drink but certainly don’t get enormously intoxicated and try to climb onto their friend’s roof naked to crow in the morning.  Not that…errr, I’ve ever done that.  Sometimes teenagers wake up, sniff their armpits, opt for deodorant instead of shower, put on yesterday’s socks after a smell test, stumble to school still somewhat inebriated and try to appear awake for the day.  Sometimes they ride in cars with boys and there are absolutely no negative consequences to show the reader how horrifying such things are.  That’s right.  No HIV, no pregnancy, no STD’s, no bitter heartbreak and having the whole school torment them.  Sometimes they yell and scream at their parents because they shouldn’t HAVE to do the washing up/take out the garbage/wash their pits/take off that make.

Certainly not all of Marchetta’s teenage characters are like that, but I’m so relieved that she’s not afraid to go there for the characters that are.   Tom is kind of messed up.  A lot.  And he does naughty-no-no things and says naughty-no-no things and makes a lot of stupid, irresponsible mistakes.  And I love him for it.  He has a strong voice and character that makes this book shine. I love the rich content in every one of Marchetta’s books – but this one hit very close to home for me.  I don’t think I could ever express myself as well as Ceridwen did – but I felt a very similar way.  Tom, you horrible, wonderful, mess of a boy!

Because Tom’s story is so much closer to what my teenage years were like than any of the YA books in which the teenage girl cooks and cleans for her single parent while solving mysteries and dating responsibly.  And then Marchetta has to go be fantastic and make me cry and weep because she always takes you to that point where you GET IT.  You so absolutely GET EVERYTHING.

Me after everyone one of her damn books!

I wish more authors had the propensity to make you feel like Marchetta does.  To trust their audience more with deeper stories.   What I love most is that Marchetta takes her teens seriously.  She doesn’t short change them by writing what she thinks teens should be like or how they should act or respond to circumstances.   She writes people, not characters and that is worth so much more than a thousand Bella Swans.

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy

10 Responses to “Review: The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta”

  1. Pocketful of Books

    AWWW at David Tennant in the rain 🙁 I have never heard of this author before but you have utterly convinced me that I would love her books. I adore well developed characters and YA books that manage to avoid being patronising x
    Pocketful of Books recently posted…Authors Behaving Badly #6My Profile

  2. Ali

    I love your review… I’ll have to have my younger sister check this book out 🙂
    What I love most about your review, though, is the David Tennant image *sigh* I <3 him

  3. Katie @ Blook Girl

    I am CONVINCED. Thank you for this review, Kat. I, too, hate it when kids and teens in books are portrayed as “how they should be”. Give me a REAL teen facing REAL issues instead of a simpering ninny who cries over spilled milk. I will definitely be reading any and all Marchetta books I come across!

  4. hrose2931

    Obviously I’ve been very misinformed about this book. I thought this was one of her fantasies. I didn’t realize it was a contemporary YA. That changes everything for me and it doesn’t. I love all your reasons for loving her characters and how she writes. I want an author that will go THERE. That’s where the truth is and not many have the desire to go THERE. But I have tried and tried to read Jellicoe Road and I can’t get past the first couple of chapters.

    I know people that sing Marchetta’s praises but I have only tried the one book and I’m guessing I’d need to read Saving Francesca first to read this one. Is the writing easier to get into than Jellicoe Road or am I a hopeless case until I can break into that?

    hrose2931 recently posted…Interview with Aimee Carter author of The Goddess Test SeriesMy Profile

  5. Lexie B.

    You know a book must be truly fantastic to inspire reviews as beautiful as yours and Ceridwen’s. If I hadn’t already made it a life goal to read everything this woman has written, this review would’ve convinced me.

    You’re a fantastic writer, and it sounds like a remarkably fantastic book.
    Lexie B. recently posted…I Hunt KillersMy Profile

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