Have you ever had your hands on a book that you are desperate to read, but then put it aside because you just knew that you didn’t have the time to give the book the attention it was bound to deserve. That is what happened to me with The Piper’s Son. I have always loved everything by Marchetta, but each book makes demands on the reader. You have to have time and energy for thinking. So a week ago when I got back from holiday I knew it was the right time to pick it up.
Many of you may remember Marchetta’s award winning book Saving Francesca. Well, the group are all back, but now it is 5 years later and the focus is on Tom who has had a very rough time. As the book opens Tom is lost in a fog of drugs and alcohol and very comfortable there because then he doesn’t have to see the disasters that have hit his friends and family. With one beloved uncle killed in 7/7 attacks in London and his parents living in different states and his girl off doing volunteer work overseas, Tom feels very alone. But when his flatmates disappear, leaving him to face up to the consequences of their communal irresponsibility, Tom sobers up and discovers the young man he will someday become. This book is all about the path he takes as he becomes this honourable young man.
Frankly I will admit that I didn’t remember Tom from Saving Francesca. In fact most of the characters in this book had disappeared from my memory with the hundreds of books I have read since 2004. And Marchetta didn’t waste a lot of time reminding me of all the bits I had forgotten. They were irrelevant, because this is Tom’s story and Tom was obviously a character that had more to say.
I also liked the whole setting for Tom’s life. His extended family were all real living characters, all trying to deal with the two family tragedies, one dating from the Vietnam War and the other as a result of terrorism. And naturally, each family group had their smaller tragedies as well, e.g. the relationship between Georgie and Sam and Dominic’s alcoholism. Marchetta very gently pulls together the threads attached to everything and very nicely anchors the story in the end.
Over the years I have read hundreds of coming-of-age novels. But almost all of them have been set in a high school and the basic plot revolves around who is friends with who and what does friendship really mean. A few have set the bar higher and looked at bigger issues. This book looks at the whole, what is life after Uni? Coming-of-age has a whole new focus when the decisions can determine the direction for a whole lifetime.
This is a book for young adults, but it has a lot to say to any reader. Thank you once again Melina.