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We’re All Following A Strange Melody

Megan reviews The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta, which features older YA characters (yay!). And: MELINA MARCHETTA.

We’re All Following A Strange Melody

BOOK REPORT for The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

Cover Story: Original Recipe Please
BFF Charm: Get It Together!
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: V. Good, As Usual
Bonus Factors: Older YA, Family Legacy
Relationship Status: I Want More

Cover Story: Original Recipe Please

The cover on the left is the US version, which I am not a big fan of. It's not necessarily bad, but it's really misleading. It makes me think this is a story about a guy who just loves music and maybe has a cool band and is trying to make it big, blah blah. The whole thing is just too twee. The cover on the right is the original Australian version and I really enjoy it. It's classy and fits well with our main character's destructive and aimless personality.

The Deal:

Tom Mackee's life is a complete mess. He's dropped out of university, he is constantly stoned or drunk and his asshole roommates have just thrown all of his stuff on the street. But then again, nothing has been right for Tom and his family the last couple of years. Ever since Tom's uncle Joe was killed in the 2005 London Tube Bombing, his family has been falling apart. Tom's father had taken to alcohol, getting so bad that Tom's mother and sister moved to another state and Tom's father has been missing ever since. The only place left for Tom to stay is at his aunt Georgie's house. Georgie isn't doing too well herself, since she's 42 and pregnant with her first child (whose father is her ex-husband.) This book, which is a semi-sequel to Marchetta's Saving Francesca, follows Tom and the rest of the Mackee family as they try to put the pieces of their fractured lives back together.

BFF Charm: Get It Together!

When our story begins, Tom Mackee is a straight up godawful friend. Over the last couple years he has ditched his old friends (including Francesca and the other lovely ladies from Saving Francesca) and is a straight up asshole any of them who have the misfortune of running into him. The worst part of an ex-friend is that they know you well enough to know what hurts you and Tom has no qualms in hitting people where it hurts. Worst of all is how Tom treated his good friend Tara, with whom he had a "one and a half night stand" and whose heart he subsequently broke. Tom's path to redemption with his friends is a hard one. Would I forgive Tom if behaved toward me like he did his friends? Probably not, but luckily for Tom, he is friends with people much more forgiving than I am.

I also need to give a shout out to Tom's aunt Georgie. She may be a bit of a mess, but she is so likable and, unfortunately, relatable. And BFF charms all around for our original ladies, Francesca, Justine, Siobhan, and Tara.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

It's hard to give this book a high score because all of the relationships are so terribly real. And when I say real, I mean there is a lot of hurt suffered by these characters. Tom broke Tara's heart and yet he spends his time longing for her and hoping to get her back (and yet is too chicken shit to do anything much to accomplish that.) Georgie's relationship with her ex Sam is complicated and full of pain. She wants to be with him and yet, due to past transgressions, feels like she cannot. While these relationships aren't really swoony or aspirational, you still find yourself rooting for their success.

Talky Talk: V. Good, As Usual

What does Marchetta write so well (ya know, besides everything?) Grief. I just loved the following paragraph about how you can go from feeling fine one day to being completely devastated by your pain the next:

The grief hits her hard one day. The way it can't be controlled. The way that yesterday can be good and so can the day before, and so can the week and the fortnight before that, but then today comes and she's back to zero. How she can't type words into her computer or even press the in-box for her mail. The effort it takes to walk. How words can't form in her mouth and how her blood feels paralyzed.

Of all her other books, the writing style of this novel felt closest to Jellicoe Road. If you have enjoyed Marchetta in the past, the narrative here will not disappoint.

Bonus Factor: Older YA

Something we're already saying around FYA is that we wish there were more older YA books. This book's narration follows both Tom and Georgie. Tom is around 21 years old and has lived life outside of his family for a few years. And at 42, Georgie is definitely the oldest YA character whose perspective I've read.

Bonus Factor: Family Legacy

Without giving too much away, the history of the Mackee-Finch family begins in tragedy and it's interesting to see how that affects their lives and even subsequent generations.

Casting Call:

Ethan Peck as Tom Mackee

Hmmm, I think all of us could put up with Tom's crap if he looked like Ethan Peck.

Téa Leoni as Georgie Finch

I don't get the opportunity to cast very many women over 40 on this site! I think Téa could make a great Georgie.

Kristen Bell as Tara Finke

Veronica Mars era Kristen Bell could be a great Tara. Do any of you guys remember that episode of Eerie Indiana where that mom puts her children in tupperware so they wouldn't age? That's what I want to do with Kristen Bell.

Relationship Status: I Want More

This book really crept up on me. I enjoyed it the entire way through but toward the end I was hit with all these emotions I didn't really expect or see coming. But even if this book hurt me a bit, it was a cathartic hurt and I can forgive it, because it brought me up as well. So when I got to the end, I wasn't finished with this story. Now that everything was coming into place, I wanted more time with these characters. Just like every other Marchetta book, I have some seriously deep long-term feelings for this book.

Megan Crane's photo About the Author: Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.