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 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 realises that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them.As a general rule, I'm not the biggest fan of most contemporary novels. I think it's that its a lot harder for a contemporary writer to engage a reader because usually there isn't much action going on, so they really have to work hard at keeping us hooked with something else. With say, paranormal or dystopian, there's generally some big adventure and a bad guy and a happily ever after ending where the said bad guy is defeated. It's edge of your seat action that can keep us reading even if the characterisation and writing are somewhat flawed. With contemporary it's easier to fall short because let's face it, it's easier to write a big action scene than well rounded characters and the like.
Melina Marchetta however is one of the contemporary authors who really does contemporary well. I adore, adore all her books and come out of all of them feeling a wreck of emotions. I don't know any other author who can make me feel more despair or heart ache or joy as I read their books. And Marchetta's latest novel is no different.
The Piper's Son is perhaps less YA than the rest of Marchetta's novels, but it's just as brilliant nonetheless. The characters are older and it's a darker novel in general, in both the mindset of the characters and the issues they face. Thomas Mackee is not the most likeable character to begin with, but Marchetta's writing keeps us caring until we get to know him better and we start caring about him and his family because of who they are as well. It's a roller coaster of emotions that you ride with them and Marchetta's way of making us truly feel for her characters is amazing. And the ending is one that leaves you with a smile on your face and a happy, satisfied feeling all round.
Melina Marchetta has written a marvellously deep and engaging novel with The Piper's Son and I can't wait to read what she comes up with next!
Published: March 1st 2010 by Penguin Australia // 9 March 2010 by Candlewick Press (in the US)