Keertana's Reviews > The Piper's Son

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
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it was amazing
bookshelves: aussie, favorites, life-changing, teary-eyed-reads, books-that-linger, beautiful-prose

I am always struck with a feeling of hopelessness when I finish a Melina Marchetta novel because I know that there is nothing I can say and that there are no words that I can articulate perfectly enough to truly express what I feel about her books. I feel as if that feeling was amplified seven-fold while reading The Piper’s Son because I simply cannot express how beautiful, touching, and poignant it is. In some ways, writing a review for The Piper’s Son is one of the hardest things I’ve ever found myself doing. Not only because there are already dozens of beautiful and raving reviews of this book, but simply because of how profoundly this novel affected me.

“Hi, my name is Tom and I dropped out of uni and spent the last year smoking weed and getting high.”
Clap, clap, clap.
“Hi, my name is Tom and I had a one-and-a-halfnight stand with one of my best friends and I don’t have the guts to ask her how she felt about it.”
Clap, clap, clap.
“Hi, my name is Tom and I treated my friends who hung around to pick up the pieces like they were shit.”
Clap, clap, clap.

Thomas Mackee’s family is broken. His dearly loved uncle was blown apart by train bombings two years ago, his father is missing and a newly-converted alcoholic, and his parents marriage, which everyone believes is perfect, has fallen apart, resulting in his mother and sister living in an entirely different state. Tortured with abandonment and grief, Tom drops out of university, breaks the heart of the girl he loves, pushes aside his friends, and resorts to drugs. When Tom hits rock bottom, there’s only one place he can go – his Aunt Georgie. Georgie however, has enough on her own plate – she is pregnant with the child of a man who loves her, yet who had an affair seven years ago and has a son to prove it. Georgie’s brother is missing, her sister-in-law lives in another state, her youngest brother’s death still plagues her, and her family, which abandoned her when she most needed them, seems to be coming back, all because she got knocked up with a man she vowed never to take back or forgive. Five years ago, all Francesca needed was saving, but this time, it isn’t just Tom who needs to be saved – it’s his entire family.

The Piper’s Son is unlike any of the previous Melina Marchetta books I’ve read, perhaps because it speaks to an audience that is larger than simply young adults and because it deals with so much more than just grief. It deals with the tearing apart of a happy family, loss, pain, and torture so deep and acute that you cannot help but block out the world.

“How can I be happy?” she asks with anguish. “To get this baby, my brother had to die. Do you understand?”
“And to get this family, my best friend had to die,” he says gruffly. “So aren’t we both a sorry pair?”

I don’t know how Marchetta does it, but she writes grief and loss in such a tangible manner that you yourself feel it. You can’t help but wish that such tragedy had never befallen this family, one that you’ve never even met. You can’t help but root for Tom, even when he’s being a jerk, because really, we’ve all behaved like him at some point. You can’t help but hope beyond all hope that everything will be okay, that nothing worse is going to happen – that this family, which used to be so happy, can find happiness and move on once again. The Piper’s Son is a novel that makes you forget you’re a reader and makes you believe you’re a spectator, watching Tom’s life unfold before your eyes. It’s a novel that tugs at your heart, wrenches at your soul, and makes you appreciate everything you have in life that Tom doesn’t. It’s a novel that makes you think about when it’s right to move on and leads you to accept the happiness that can come later, even after the death of a beloved one. It’s a story like no other.

“It should have been none of us,” she says fiercely. “None of us. We didn’t deserve it. No one does.”
“Christ, Georgie, just say I lose Tom,” he says, beating a fist against his temple, as if he wants to hammer the thought out of his head. “Just say I lose my boy.”

The Piper’s Son is probably one of the most fitting titles I’ve ever heard. Dominic, Tom’s father, is known as “the piper” and more than anything else in this story – whether it is Tom’s friendships, his relationship with his aunt, his yearning for his dead uncle – this is novel about Tom’s relationship with his father. It may not seem like that at first, but the root cause of everything bad, miserable, and confusing in Tom’s life doesn’t go back to death or grief, it goes back to the loss of his father. For me, their story was the most heartbreaking because it affected Dominic on a deeper level than Tom could ever have known, because it affected Jacinta, Tom’s mother, in a way he never could have anticipated, and because in the end, it was the relationship that mattered the most to him. I think what I love the most about this story isn’t the relationships or the characters; it’s the fact that every single character is of utmost importance. We don’t ever get to read anything from Dominic’s point of view, or Jacinta’s point of view, or even Tara’s point of view, but we understand them and their grief, loss, and hope just as well as we understand Tom’s. That, in my opinion, is the true mark of a good writer.

The Piper’s Son is a novel that cannot be described in words; it can only be felt through words. I loved meeting “the four horsewomen of the apocalypse” and knowing that they still managed to be together, despite having oceans between them. I loved the chemistry between Will and Frankie, the fierce protection between Frankie and Luca, and the utter bliss and happiness of having all these friends back together once again. I loved the new characters (especially Ned, Sam, and Callum, Sam’s adorable son) just as much as I loved the old ones and I dearly hope that Marchetta is writing a sequel to The Piper’s Son (because Jimmy Hailler deserves his own book and Justine and Ben seriously need to get together already). Despite its serious nature, The Piper’s Son still retains the humor of Marchetta’s writings and Tom’s original and undeniable wit. This is a story that will make you laugh, that will make you cry, that will make you dream, that will make you pray and one that will undoubtedly change your life (or your outlook on it at least) forever. So should you read The Piper’s Son? Yes. A thousand times, yes.
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Quotes Keertana Liked

Melina Marchetta
“Maybe she'd always been there. Maybe strangers enter your heart first and then you spent the rest of your life searching for them. ”
Melina Marchetta, The Piper's Son

Melina Marchetta
“...women are elephants and watch the way you say that in front of them because they'll think you're calling them fat and there's no coming back from that moment. But they hoard. They say they don't, but they do. We think that if something's not spoken about again, it goes away. It doesn't. Nothing goes away just like that...”
Melina Marchetta, The Piper's Son

Melina Marchetta
“Ned?' he says, after a while. 'Oi, Ned?'
'If someone says to you that the guy they're going out with doesn't have to prove how smart he is, what's your response?'
'That he's dumb.'
'And if he has a sixpack?'
'Dumb jock.'
'Not too intense.'
'Dumb jock with no personality.'
'And they see eye to eye?'
Ned pauses. 'With the spitfire from Dili?'
'Same,' Tom corrects.
Ned holds up a hand to where Tara would reach him in height.
'Dumb jock with no personality and short-man syndrome.'
'Thanks, Ned.'
Melina Marchetta, The Piper's Son

Melina Marchetta
“I’m scared I’m going to spend the rest of my life in a state of yearning, regardless of where I am.”
Melina Marchetta, The Piper's Son

Melina Marchetta
“He knows bad days. Bad days take him completely by surprise. They make him not trust the good days because it's likely something is lurking twenty-four hours away.”
Melina Marchetta, The Piper's Son

Melina Marchetta
“I can do oblivion, you know. I can do it better than him. I'd like to see how he likes it if I just disappear from his life without a word. It was okay for him to keep in contact with Georgie and my mum, but not once did he pick up the phone or write to me. Like I was fucking nothing to him. Like I'm nothing to no one.”
Melina Marchetta, The Piper's Son

Melina Marchetta
“How would you like it if I said to you, 'It kills me to say this, but you're actually a tiny bit beautiful?" he had asked, pissed off.

She hadn't said anything then, which was rare for her.

"Would you have been lying?" She said after a long silence.

"Lying about what?"

More quiet.

"About me being a tiny bit beautiful."

"Shit, yeah."


But later that night, he had sent her a message on MSN.

Of course I was lying. The "tiny" bit part, anyway.”
Melina Marchetta, The Piper's Son

Melina Marchetta
“If I did something to hurt Frankie and she said that I was never getting near her heart again, I’d spent 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.”
Melina Marchetta, The Piper's Son

Melina Marchetta
“Come here,” she says.
“No, you come here.”
“I said it first.”
“Rock paper scissors.”
“No. Because you’ll do nerdy calculations and work out what I chose the last six times and then you’ll win.”
Will pushes away from the table and his hand snakes out and he pulls her toward him and Tom figures that Will was always going to go to her first.”
Melina Marchetta, The Piper's Son

Reading Progress

April 10, 2012 – Shelved
May 13, 2012 – Shelved as: aussie
May 16, 2012 – Started Reading
May 16, 2012 – Shelved as: favorites
May 16, 2012 – Finished Reading
May 23, 2012 – Shelved as: life-changing
July 3, 2012 – Shelved as: teary-eyed-reads
July 3, 2012 – Shelved as: books-that-linger
December 22, 2012 – Shelved as: beautiful-prose

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)

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Erin I love this book! (Me and everybody else...)

Keertana I loved Saving Francesca, so I can't wait to read this! It's sitting on my bookshelf, but I have so many library books I have to finish before they're due that I'm forced to put this off :/ I have a feeling I won't be able to put this down though once I start reading it though (:

Erin I couldn't put it down once I started, and I didn't even love SF! Happy reading, whenever you get to it!

Keertana You didn't love Saving Francesca? Wow, that means Piper's Son is better! Now I have more incentive to zip through my other books and get to this one ;) Thanks Erin! :D

Erin Anytime. ;)

Keertana Erin, you were right! I absolutely couldn't put this book down! I still think Saving Francesca is my favorite Marchetta novel, but The Piper's Son comes in close second. It was brutally heart-breaking yet emotionally satisfying all at the same time...simply beautiful! :)

Erin Nice review! The "a thousand times yes" thing slayed me.

I remember loving this book so much that I went back through and took note of every single musical reference so that maybe, someday, I can have a complete Piper's Son playlist. That's dedication.

And now your review has reminded me that I still need to purchase this! I've been putting it off because I want the overseas cover (hate the American one), but I don't want to pay the big bucks. Sigh.

Keertana Thanks Erin!(: Yes, that line made me laugh and cry all at the same time.

I only knew two of the songs mentioned in The Piper's Son, but they were both so brilliant that I really want to go back and listen to all the other songs as well. That definitely is dedication and a great idea! Someday, I'll finally listen to all those songs as well ;)

I absolutely agree with you - the American cover is rubbish. I feel as if it has very little, if anything, to do with the novel itself. The Australian cover is beautiful, poignant, and thought-provoking. It's on my list of "overseas-books-to-buy" since their covers seem to be that much better than any American ones (same with their authors too :P).

Erin I have Marchetta to thank for my discovery of Regina Spektor, and I'm sure there's a lot of other great music these characters listen to that I have yet to hear!

Keertana Yup! I found a list of the songs mentioned in The Piper's Son here: Enjoy! :)

message 11: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin I am totally making a Piper's Son playlist on Spotify. :)

Thanks so much for looking that up.

message 12: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin I just dug out my old list, and I definitely used way more musical examples than even the author to make the playlist. I'm so thorough!

Keertana LOL! That's great! I was looking at the list and thinking that there were more songs mentioned, but I couldn't be sure. (;

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Excellent review! :) You articulate your thoughts so beautifully. I loved this book so much, and is my second favorite MM novel after Saving Francesca. I loved revisiting Frankie, Will, and the rest of the gang in this book too. :)

message 15: by Keertana (last edited May 17, 2012 07:13PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Keertana Thank you Leanne! :) I absolutely agree with you - The Piper's Son is my favorite Melina Marchetta novel after Saving Francesca . I haven't read Looking for Alibrandi or On the Jellicoe Road (which everyone seems to be raving about) yet, but I definitely enjoyed Saving Francesca and The Piper's Son a tad bit more than I did Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles , although those were brilliant as well. I absolutely adored Will in this book and I'm so glad we got to see more of him! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a Jimmy Hailler or Justine Kalinsky sequel (because seriously, I need to know what happened to Jimmy and Justine seriously needs to get together with Ben already)! Hopefully after MM is finished with Quintana of Charyn she'll begin another book with these amazing characters! :D

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm another one of those many readers who love to gush about On the Jellicoe Road, ha! And I need to read Finnikin, ASAP.

I want a sequel with Jimmy and Justine, hey. I'm crossing my fingers and toes also, but I've got a feeling MM won't be writing a sequel anytime soon. :( Still, one could always hope.

Keertana I actually have On the Jellicoe Road sitting on my shelf, but I simply haven't gotten to it yet. The first few chapters are rather confusing, so I decided to try it a little later, but I definitely need to get to it ASAP. Finnkin of the Rock was actually the first MM book I read and, being an avid fantasy reader, I loved it. I can't wait to see what you think of it!(:

Yes, I have to agree with you. MM wrote The Piper's Son nearly three years after Saving Francesca was published, and since she doesn't even seem to have any plans for a sequel yet, it will probably take awhile before we get our Jimmy and Justine novel. I personally think she will write a sequel eventually, simply because she left Jimmy's story vastly unfinished and his was always a tale that needed telling, even in Saving Francesca , but then again, it could just be my hope speaking ;)

message 18: by Savindi (new)

Savindi Reading your reviews is going to make me bankrupt before the school year ends because I ALWAYS want to get the books you talk about :P. So I went to the bookstore and bought The Piper's Son! I wanted to ask, do you have to read Saving Francesca first? Or can you just read this one on it's own?

Keertana Yayyy! :D I read Saving Francesca before I read this one and while I don't think it's necessary to read it before The Piper's Son, since it can be read as a stand-alone and I know people who have read it before Saving Francesca, I think Saving Francesca just gives you a better idea of the friendships between the characters in this novel. The Piper's Son isn't a continuation of Saving Francesca since that novel wrapped up perfectly, but when this starts, it's in the future and the characters have grown and developed and their friendships are different, so I think it simply adds more depth since you can see where they were before and where they are now. I love this one though, so I highly recommend it. I hope you do read Saving Francesca too though - it's my favorite Marchetta novel to date and I've read all of them. It's rarely anyone's favorite, but I adored it, so I'd highly recommend that one too. You definitely can read this on its own though...just in case that answer got lost in my rambling! ;) So, SO glad I convinced you to pick this up though! YAY! :D

message 20: by KP (new) - added it

KP Your review makes the book so appealing...thank you!

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