mstan's Reviews > The Piper's Son

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
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's review
Jul 24, 11

bookshelves: australian, young-adult, src-summer-2011
Read on June 02, 2011, read count: 1

My expectations for this book were SO high because of Saving Francesca and all the reviews I'd seen. I mean, who wouldn't want to read about the lives of Tommy Mackee (class clown), Frankie & Will Trombal, Justine (accordion player), Tara Finke (social (justice) worker) and the lovable supporting cast (Luca Spinelli, little brother to Frankie) five years down the road?

Marchetta piles it on here - structuring the Mackees' lives around political events like the Vietnam War and the London bombing in 2005; quoting from the marvellous Japan; exploring maternity bras and nursing class; introducing yet another sprawling family tree and confusing family names (pop Bill, Tom Finch, Thomas/Tommy Mackee, Joe Mackee, yikes). The world is confusing, heady, incestuous (view spoiler), loving, violent, with passionate kissing literally taking place between a couple when the male half is halfway through a round of fisticuffs with another man (one of my favourite scenes early on in the novel!). Emails are sent to a dead brother; calls are made to a 'one-and-a-half-night stand' in East Timor. A father recovers from alcoholism and cigarettes are smoked with extraordinary frequency. Is this really a young adult novel??

Marchetta loves her characters to a fault, and in the end, it is the intensity of her writing that tugs my emotions away in the undertow. The grief and love are exhausting, and I miss the frequency of the surprising flights into frivolity that made me adore Saving Francesca. There are still some here - like Ned the cook, Justine, Frankie and Tom waging a 'bad taste' war in music during a road-trip, or Ned telling Tom there is no such thing as 'gaydar', or the girls texting each other about the time Tom cried during LOTR - but most of the novel makes me feel wrung out in the way real sorrow might - unlike many other readers, I could not bring myself to cry, really, upon reading this, but instead, felt clogged up inside.

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