At my age (20ish) a lot of people, including many of my friends, don’t read much. They “don’t have time” or “can’t be bothered” and maybe its because we spend a lot of our time being told what to read, from school and into university, so that when you want to switch off reading isn’t what jumps to mind. The choice between ‘adult’ fiction and ‘teenage’ fiction is a tricky one, because chances are you’re going to be reading about someone a few years younger or older than yourself. Not always that easy to relate to.
Melina Marchetta is one of the authors helping to bridge that gap. I read Saving Francesca in year 9 for school, and On The Jellicoe Road became a favourite of mine in year 12.
The group of friends from Saving Francesca are reprised in her latest book, this time 5 years older, with 5 years worth of problems added into the mix and a different main character. By no means a sequel, The Piper’s Son is a stunning stand alone novel. But when you already know the characters, it adds a certain something to the experience. Having grown up with Melina Marchetta, it seems her characters have grown up with me too.
Thomas Mackee is an (about) 21 year old who has dropped out of uni and watched his family fall away from under him. The Piper’s Son is his story of coming back from the edge of a cliff, or in actual fact, a stage. Sometimes you have to fall.
When your uncle was “blown to smithereens” on his way to work in the London Underground bombings, things understandably take a turn for the worse. He thought he wanted oblivion, to make the regrets and heartbreak disappear. A once tight knit family spread over state lines. A once inseparable group of friends spread over a few continents. Once Tom’s mind clears from his year in so -called oblivion, he realises that the rest of world didn’t stop moving when he fell off the map. With the help of some old friends and the family who need him as much as he needs them, Tom is figuring out how to live again.
Make no mistake, this fantastic, emotionally diverse book will make you laugh and cry. And you won’t be able to put it down.
So thank you, Melina Marchetta, for continuing to write great books for people my age that are about people who are around my age. It’s like it was meant to be. Recommended for young women and men aged 16 up.