|THE PIPER'S SON by MELINA MARCHETTA|
“Sometimes he feels a pull towards Francesca. She was the reason he came into the group. It was her misery that united them and somehow her personality that kept them together when everyone split. She’s the one that writes the letter to kept the world informed. She listens to the news every hour to make sure everyone’s safe.”
On Tuesday I talked about Saving Francesca, the first of many Marchetta novels we'll discuss! I thoroughly enjoyed SF, but I fell in love with its sequel, The Piper's Son. I'd classify it as more of a companion novel; the same cast of characters is back, along with some wonderful additions. However, the focus of the story shifts from Francesca Spinelli to Thomas Mackee. I love that Marchetta explored a different character's life in greater detail while still incorporating pieces of Francesca's and her family and friends'. The combination creates a magical book overall.
Set five years after SF ends, Tom's life has experienced an upheaval. His friends have all gone off in their own directions, but he has lost his way after a horrific bombing killed his favourite uncle who was overseas working. At home, his family tries (or maybe not so much) to cope with the inexplicable situations they are finding themselves in, but Tom remains adrift. Over the course of the story, he reconnects and tries to find his way, and the journey laid out on paper is a wonderful thing to read. I felt more of a connection to the characters in this book, so let's dive right in.
|The best part is, while Tom is a pretty perfect character, he's also very real.|
As I mentioned, Tom is now the main character, and oh, boy. THOMAS FINCH MACKEE. The things you do to me. The way his imperfections initially rule him, but the relationships he has with his friends (and family), bring him back to who he is at heart works seamlessly, I thought. A main part of his story deals with the girl that got away, Tara Finke. I loved the way things were far from ideal between them, yet she was the motivation that he needed as he struggled to get his life together. Their email exchanges were spot on; I'm happy that Marchetta included that different form of dialogue.
Beyond Tara, his relationship with the other girls introduced in SF remained true. Whether it was Siobhan emailing him now and then, or Frankie and Justine being back in his day-to-day life, their friendships made me feel like they were all people in my own circle of friends. Friends are the family you choose for yourself, and that's exactly what those girls are to Tom.
“It's what he always what he always had with Francesca and Justine. They were uninhibited when it came to music and sometimes the three of them had a tune inside their head that no one else could hear, and tonight it's there between them and they're fucking the space with their bodies.”
What Marchetta does so well is balance not just Tom's story (which encompasses everything from the girls, to his father's re-entrance into his life, to the death of his Uncle Joe and the effect it has had on his family), but those of the secondary characters as well. Francesca and Will, in particular, received the time and attention they deserved. Their connection was established in SF, of course, but this story gave me so much more of what I wanted. I adored moments like these (and wanted to include so many more than just two!):
“...Will Trombal and the way he doesn't do romance but eats the space between him and Francesca anytime he's in the room with her.”
“"Why would the smartest guy you know do something stupid and lose you?" he asks. She sighs. "Because smart guys have two brains, Will. One in their head and one in their pants." "Yeah, well both my brains are connected and one is always reminding the other of you."”
The beauty of this (and actually many of the relationships in this book) is that it isn't even all in person. A lot of the time these people are separated by huge distances, but that doesn't make their stories any less important or poignant or powerful. In fact, I'd say it often makes them more so. It's also refreshing to see these people manage to stay connected despite kilometres between them or time elapsed. To use a really corny saying I learned back in Brownies: "make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold." These friends, who we've seen grow thanks to the jump in time between SF and TPS, are definitely of the gold variety.
|This is so true. |
And all the characters in this book are beautiful people.
Even Will, who Tom does not have the strongest relationship with, ends up playing an important part in his story. I think it's a sign of how Tom is developing as a character that he takes the advice he receives to heart:
“If I did something to hurt Frankie and she said that I was never getting near her again, I'd spend the rest of my life trying anyway. That's the difference between you and me, Tom. I'd go back to the moment it all fell apart and I'd start there.”
The places that Tom and Tara's story go from there are nothing short of perfect. I know some other people felt that the ending shortchanged the reader, but I disagree. There's a lot happening in this book (which maybe won't be everyone's cup of tea, but was definitely mine), and I personally don't like when every last thing is tied up with a neat little bow. That's what I respected about this story, it gives the reader love, heartbreak and family issues, depicting how much life can fucking suck sometimes, but you can find a way through it. To use a cliché, no man is an island. Everybody's stories weave together to create this amazing thing that makes you feel so much. Different parts made me laugh and cry; at points I felt elated and at others my heart ached.
“I wish everyone would stop crying, Tom. Uncle Joe would be so angry about it." But she's crying herself now. "He'd be so angry at us, Tom, for crying so much when all he did was laugh.”
To sum it all up, I now count The Piper's Son as one of my favourites, and I know I'll be reading it again and again. So, if you haven't already, go read Saving Francesca and then dive into this one and come flail with me!!
A/N: This will be the last book by Melina Marchetta that I talk about for awhile, since my copy of Jellicoe Road isn't with me at the moment. If you haven't read JR, I strongly encourage you to do so immediately (along with SF and TPS and basically anything that she's written/will ever write)! It's my favourite book of hers and I can't wait to talk about it. The next couple of weeks are going to be crazy for me, so there will probably only be a post a week until things settle down. That being said, I'll see you all next Thursday! I hope you all have a fantastic weekend filled with great books! <3