Two years ago I read SAVING FRANCESCA by Melina Marchetta and reviewed it here at my Goodreads shelf. It was in my top ten books of 2009. Yesterday, I...moreTwo years ago I read SAVING FRANCESCA by Melina Marchetta and reviewed it here at my Goodreads shelf. It was in my top ten books of 2009. Yesterday, I finally got around to reading the stand-alone companion novel, THE PIPER'S SON.
Ok, technically, I started reading it on Wednesday evening. I read perhaps 1/3 of it, and fell asleep thinking about it, analyzing the prose, and wondering how it was going to spin out. In the morning, my intention was to write. Because, you know, it's what I do.
Only I couldn't. I could not put THE PIPER'S SON mentally aside and work on my own stuff. So I picked it back up, and 3 hours later was finished.
Then the problem became that oh-so-rare these days problem: it had been so good, I couldn't write because I'm not that good, because her characters were stuck in my head and overshadowing my own characters.
THE PIPER'S SON is the best book I've read in 2011.
There are no monsters, there's no magic, and that didn't bother me at all.
Here's the GR blurb:
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 pub with his former friends. And winds up living with his grieving father again. And remembers how he abandoned Tara Finke two years ago, after his uncle's death.
And 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.
That's seriously all it's about. But it's riveting. The prose is tight and short and cutting, telling more than showing, and yet it slowly builds an entire portrait of a young man. And his disastrous, funny, broken family.
So far all of my books deal with grief in some way (duh, I kill people), and the precision with which Marchetta examines the fallout of tragedy without being at all sad or depressing had me rereading whole pages, trying to dissect exactly how she was doing it. She manages to make me so angry at Tom (and everyone) and also totally in love with him (and everyone). And THAT is exactly what family is about, I suppose - all those contradictory emotions coexisting. It was like I was part of the mess. And very glad to be.
THE PIPER'S SON is a great example of crossover, too. It's not quite YA, and not just adult. The two POVs are Tom, who's about 21, but he's grappling with some basic YA themes, and his 42 year old aunt Georgie. I was less interested in her POV, to be honest, but I doubt that will be everyone's take. It certainly didn't ruin anything for me, and was just as gently and piercingly written.
That's really all I want to say. I'm giving it all the stars, and possibly buying it for everyone in my family this Christmas. And reading it again immediately - or perhaps rereading SAVING FRANCESCA first. (less)
Basically, I was sold by page 50, and swept up in this hugely satisfying adventure. There was surprise and intrigue and fury and desperation and magic...moreBasically, I was sold by page 50, and swept up in this hugely satisfying adventure. There was surprise and intrigue and fury and desperation and magic! And then that scene at the very end took a story I was already engaged with in my head and imagination, and left an indelible stamp on my heart. It made me realize that like the BEST stories, this one had swept me along perfectly at it's intended pace. I discovered as the hero, Cat, discovered. I was betrayed and educated as she was. I found family and answers when she did. And I loved as she loved. Not too early, not too late, but right along with her.
For a more complete (but spoiler-free) love-fest, see my blog, HERE.(less)