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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.

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6 Comments

  • Sounds great, I’m going to have to get this as soon as I have money again!! :)

  • OMG, must. read. now.
    I am so insanely jealous that you got to read this! (are you from australia? cause its not out in north america yet *sniff*)
    I love love love all of melina’s books (minus finnikin cuz i’m waiting for my library to get it). it has characters from saving francesca too!
    ohmigosh, too jealous 😛
    great review, makes me want to go to australia and buy it.

  • Hey Audrey – I am from Australia. Not sure on a US publishing date at this stage, but it is a great book!

    Keep an eye out for an interview with Melina coming soon.

  • I strongly recommend you read On the Jellicoe Road!
    Actually, all Marchetta books are brilliant. But Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca are probably her worst. but then again, she is one of the best writers out there…..

  • LOVED this book. I just love how sh ebrings the characters to life.

    I hope her next book is about Jimmy :)

  • I adored this book.
    What made me read it initially was the Australian author. I’m from Australia, and I’ve only ever read books by Americans.

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