Friday, October 26, 2012

Carla's Thoughts - The Piper's Son By Melina Marchetta


Published by 8 March 2011, Candlewick press

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 favourite uncles being blow 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 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 realises that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them.


Confession – writing this was terrifying. I love this book in an intense unexplainable way that makes me nervous.  It makes me selfish, clutching my thoughts to my chest, unwilling to share them because they are mine and you can’t have them. This book is my secret and it’s time I came clean.


There is a reason why Marchetta is my favourite author and it extends beyond her skills as a writer. It is her ability to read people; to strip back the layers and lay them bare. She doesn’t box them into tropes or smother them in stereotypes, she writes people as they are; real. So that is what they become. Her ability to write every facet of the human condition breathes so much life into her characters that they cease to be words on a page. Nothing is idealised, every emotion is raw and unflinchingly real.

Tom’s relationship with his father was this all-encompassing thing that transcended beyond the words on the page. That confusing heart breaking realisation that this person you admire is just that; a person. They will hurt you in ways you never thought possible and it will cut deep, until the you recognise that even the adults amongst us make mistakes. Their relationship is painful and beautiful all at once, because it’s gone from being this wonderful thing full of trust and communication to complete silence. And it’s the breakdown of their relationship, how it hit rock bottom then carried on going for good measure that permeates Tom in ways he doesn't really understand. Those Finch-Mackees will get you good.

And not forgetting his life outside of his family, which is as much of an emotional driving force for the story as the inner workings of the Finch-Mackee clan. And that comes in the form of his relationship with his school friends aka the four horsewomen, Francesca, Justine, Siobhan and Tara, and not forgetting one Will Trombal. (IT IS GOOD TO BE BACK GUYS, OH HOW I HAVE MISSED YOU). He needs them to talk him down and welcome him back into the fold, because these are not fleeting friendships, these are friendships built on solid foundations that won’t ever fail. They are nuanced and vivid and it’s like stumbling across a secret that you knew but forgot. Their interactions are alive and will slay you with their humor. They are in a word, mesmorising. I could quite happily sit in the corner of the Union and just watch them and never get bored.

Georgie, she snuck up on me and held fast and tight. Her character was woven through with grief and guilt so cloying that it sometimes hurt my heart to read. She’s the lighthouse in the storm guiding you home but she too is broken and unwilling to forgive, even if forgiving means finding the way back to her. She overwhelmed me this woman, because she shows that even adults sometimes don’t get it right and sometimes all you can do is try to hold things together the best that you can.

The essence of this story is love – the love between family that more often than not gets taken for granted. The love between friends that stays strong regardless of the passing of time or distance. And it’s about the pain that love can inflict upon a person; grief, disappointment, misunderstandings.  All the different ways you can inadvertently hurt those who mean the most. There is nothing harder than watching grief tear a family to shreds and having to look at the mess that was once something amazing. And Marchetta gets that and she doesn’t try to romanticise the spite and the hate that comes with loss, she never ones tries to make it anything less than what it is; it’s ugly and brutal and it can diminish a person.

There are some moments in life that make you stop and marvel – they’re few and far between and if you’re not paying enough attention, they might just pass you by. This book is a marvel and even if I could recite it off by heart, I would never, not ever, be able to do this book justice. This is my secret. And now it is yours. 

(p.s Jimmy, I love you. Let's have tea and talk fantasy fiction. I know you're not a pothead.)

20 comments:

  1. Oh goodness. What a beautiful review. I agree with all of this. I love these broken real people and all their heartbreaks.I love that forgiveness plays a big part of this story and that MM shows that the journey there is not easy or simple. Life is complicated, and though the people close to you have the most ability to hurt you, they also can make it the most worth while. I was surprised by how much I felt for Georigie, and I just LOVE Tom. And I WANT A BOOK ABOUT JIMMY!! I'm convinced that he and Jessa from Jellicoe are going to meet and fall in love.

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    1. thanks Lauren - totally totally surprised by how much I connected to Georgie....I should know by now that Marchetta can do anything, yet she continues to surprise me.

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  2. Oh Carla. This is so so beautiful. YOU are beautiful. I connected with this book on such a deep level. It's definitely among my favorites, as well. I like that you mentioned wanting to watch all the friends because I felt the exact same way. I loved their chemistry. Thank you for sharing your secret with us. Please share more.. forever & always! xoxo

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    1. awww G!! actually made me tear up a little - this review actually hurt me to write. like PAINFULLY aware of every word I used because I really want to do the book justice. gave me The Fear, so i'm glad you enjoyed! :)

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  3. I know there a lot of book grievances you have against me and that COULD end our friendship if I don't read them but I think the BIGGEST may be that I have never read a Melina book judging from this review. I really, really want to now because these are the types of books I LOVE and the type of well written characters that are REAL!

    Great review lady!

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    1. JAMIE OH MY GOODNESS WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO ME. seriously, you will love them so hard and you'll be SO MAD that you didn't read them sooner. I know we've had this discussion on tiwtter so SAVING FRANCESCA. do it. do it right now.

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  4. Carla, I just <3 you like whoa. I need to read this book RIGHT NOW. In fact, I'm reserving from the library as we speak.

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    1. YAYYYYYYY. I hope you love it as much as me. and DITTO. DITTO.

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  5. Loving this review! Downloaded it:)

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    1. brilliant - I can't wait to see what you think Megan.

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  6. This is so powerful...and I want some! Just found your site and am so glad I did...love reading real reviews!
    New follower/reader...
    Happy Weekend!

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    1. wow, thanks Deidre!! I ALWAYS WANTS SOME MARCHETTA. i mean, I realise that doesn't a bit weird out of context but crap if her books aren't just the most amazing things I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

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  7. I've only read one Marchetta book - Jellicoe Road - but I'm already completely, head over heels in love with the way she writes. If I could bottle up the feelings that Jellicoe Road made me feel and shove it at people so they could understand why I love it, I TOTALLY WOULD.

    This enthusiastic review from you just makes me want to read more of her work. It sounds heartbreaking, lovely and just.... perfect.

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    1. that's the thing. it ONLY takes one book - Jellicoe is my favourite book, hands down. I think her writing on that and especially Finnikin, was her best writing (technically speaking because of all the plot threads and the making he story come together in that special way) BUT with books like this one and saving francesca, they have a different feeling to them. they hurt your heart.

      honestly, if we could bottle the way I feel when I finish one of her books, I would be deliriously happy forever and ever amen.

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  8. Oh my gracious, this blog post hurts but in a 'love hurts' kind of way that is SO GOOD. Like Alexa, I've only read Jellicoe Road but it totally shredded me. And everyone tells me I need to read more Marchetta, so I'm about to read Finnikin with Lauren, the top commenter up there. But I intend to read ALL of her books.

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    1. you do you do!! I would definitely say read Saving Francesca before The Piper's Son, but only because you appreciate the characters a whole lot more. it's like finding your best friends again and it's such a lovely feeling.

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  9. Jesus I hate you but I love you but I hate you because I have only read one MM -- Looking For Alibrandi and I am feeling ALL OF THE GUILT because I haven't read this or Jellicoe Road or Saving Francesca or Finnikin. WAHH WAHH WAHH GUILT INDUCING.

    I just love your love of Melina Marchetta.

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    1. pish, you don't hate me, you LOVE ME. you best feel all of the guilt because you know I'm not like this about everyone, so this is SERIOUS stuff. for real, she is my favourite author. her books are magical.

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  10. YES. "She doesn’t box them into tropes or smother them in stereotypes, she writes people as they are; real."

    I just read SF a few weeks ago + know I must get onto this book. Confession... I saw this review last week and stopped myself from reading it. Because i knew I would have to buy this very book and it would be all over. So I am going to click over to B&N and just give in already.

    I'm glad you didn't keep the book a secret. ;)

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    1. if you have finished SF then definitely get on it, jump on it, jump on it *dances*

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