Tag Archives: Hardship

The Piper’s Son – Melina Marchetta
Book Reviews
March 3, 2010 posted by Katie

The Piper’s Son – Melina Marchetta

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 favorite 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 pup with his former friends. And winds up living with his grieving father again. And remembers how he walked away from Tara Finke two years ago, after his uncle’s death.

In a year when everything’s broken, Tom realizes that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them.

Thomas Mackee feels as if he has nothing left to live for. His family is split apart; he no longer communicates with his closes friends and almost lost everything if not for the compassion of those friends he cut off. For as much as Tom seems to hate the world, the further we go along and find that Tom is struggling with hating himself. After an event that leaves him in hospital, Tom ends up pleading with his Aunt Georgie to let him stay. A decision that eventually puts Tom on the path to who he really wants to be.

Georgie is pregnant. To the man she broke up with for seven years. Who has a son from another relationship. Georgie and Sam have a careful relationship. What it is neither can really decide or talk about. For Georgie and Sam, silence is normal. Until Tom appears and unintentionally creates a channel for communication, and Georgie and Sam might have a chance to finally work out exactly what they mean to each other.

Francesca and Justine work at the Union pub, the pub where Tom’s flatmates stole $2000 from while they were working there. Tom decides that it is up to him to repay the debt. Francesca and Justine knew Tom through high school, and were cast aside when Tom lost his uncle, yet they never stopped caring. Slowly, Francesca and Justine find that they are getting their Tom back, and will do everything they can to help Tom return to who he used to be.

But Tom doesn’t only have his own life to worry about. His father is a former alcoholic whose drinking problem forced Tom’s mum and sister to relocate to Brisbane. His father abandoned Tom to fend for himself, and never once looked back. His favourite uncle was killed in a terrorist bombing attack, the one person Tom relied on for good, true, honest advice. His sort-of ex-girlfriend that he is still in love with is in Same and has moved on, refusing to communicate in any form.

In a life where everything seems so tangled, will Tom be able to work out, what it is he truly wants before it is too late?

The Piper’s Son is the fifth novel from Australian author Melina Marchetta, and is set five years after the events of Saving Francesca. Yet, it is not necessary to have read Saving Francesca to understand the story, as believe it or not, this is the first Marchetta novel that I have read. That may come as a surprise to some who knows Marchetta’s work, but I now know why Marchetta is regarded as one of the best young adult authors in Australia.

The Piper’s Son was one of the most captivating and engaging books I have read this year. I could not get the characters out of my head, constantly wanting to pick up the book and find out what happens next. Through the perspective of Tom and occasional flashes into the mind of Georgie, I’ve discovered two characters that I care about. Tom is troubled and flawed, needing love and acceptance, even if sometimes he shrugs it off and pretends like nothing can tough him. Georgie is that aunt that you wish you have – caring enough to let you stay when you have nowhere else to go and perceptive enough to know that something is wrong, even if you don’t want to talk about it. From the beginning of the novel where nothing goes right for either Tom or Georgie, to the end where you find that maybe, just maybe they can make their lives work in a positive way; you are there with them, each step and failure along the way. Failure that reminds you that they are just a human as anyone else.

Set in a modern day Sydney with references and mentions to recent events from everything to the Lord of the Rings to the London terrorist attacks, Marchetta has created a world that is gritty and instantly believable and recognisable as a world that we belong to.

I highly recommend this to everyone, no matter the style of novel you like to read.

Publication date: March 2010

Pages: 328

Rating:: ★★★★★

Teaser quote: He went to the sent box praying that somehow the email got rejected. No such luck. Twenty seconds earlier anabelsbrother sent taramarie a message, now with the words cheers, or see ya, or whenever. But signing off with the word, love.

Letters to Leonardo – Dee White
Book Reviews
February 5, 2010 posted by Katie

Letters to Leonardo – Dee White

The truth changes everything.

Dear Leonardo,

Truth is important in art, don’t you think?

Truth is important full stop.


It’s Matt Hudson’s fifteenth birthday and all he wants is some art lessons. Instead, he gets a card from his dead mother. How can someone who died ten years ago send you a card?

Simple answer – they can’t.

This awful truth changes Matt’s life forever.

On the morning of your fifteenth birthday you think it would be a happy situation and a reason to celebrate. Not for Matt Hudson. For Matt, it’s the 10th reminder that his mother isn’t here to wish him a happy birthday, that it’s just him and his father, Dave, who will probably not even remember and will make up for it with pizza for dinner.

Or that’s how Matt thought it would go.

He wasn’t expecting a card. Especially a card from his mother that is supposed to be dead. Suddenly Matt’s world is turned upside down. Was it just his imagination? Someone’s idea of a practical joke? For Matt can find no record of her anywhere. Relatives refuse to talk about her, no records of any kind linked to the name and a search on Google doesn’t even bring up anything with her name. After all, Zara Templeton isn’t exactly a common name.

Except for a bible found in his Dad’s draw with her name on it, Zara has all but disappeared.

Yet as Matt digs deeper, there are records of Zara. Except she calls herself Zora now. There are mentions of her as an artist. Matt even sees one of her paintings and knows for sure that this has to be his mother. For where else would he have got his talent and interest in art except from his mother?

As Matt discovers more, the anger in him builds. Anger at being lied to for 10 years of his life. Anger at events that took his mother out of his life, but above all, anger at his father for pretending like nothing is wrong, that he hasn’t just created one big lie. For what could make a father lie to his son about his mother?

Dave had his reasons. For Zora would abandon Matt as a child – leave him in shopping centers and home alone for days on end. Zora suffers from bipolar. And she refuses to take medication on the basis that it limits her creative ability.

At first Matt doesn’t believe him. And as events get more and more out of control, risking everything and everyone he loves, Matt comes to realise that maybe his father was right. But will Matt understand before he loses the one person who has stuck by him through thick and thin?

Letters to Leonardo is the moving story of how one family comes to terms with the biggest changes in their life and how it affects both them and those around them. Dee White’s debut novel is oddly compelling and real. The voice of Matt is so strong and true that you feel the confusion and the indecision that Matt feels, and his struggle to understand and deal with the events that has unfolded in his life. White provides an inside into a topic that isn’t often spoken about in ways that can be identified with and understood.

Pages: 246

Publication date: 2009

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser quote: You were little. It was for your own good. I had to protect you…