Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Piper's Son, Melina Marchetta

It's coming up on the end of the year and all over blogland people are putting up Best Of and Top Ten lists. I've submitted my Top Ten YA picks for 2011 over at another blog I contribute to and pretty soon I'll reproduce it here. Yes, I am that lazy. And I'm pretty sure there's zero crossover audience, so deal with it. While I have reviews of some of my Top Ten YA picks up already, written as I read the books (this was a weird year, almost nothing on the front half and completely loaded in the last six months) I won't end up having full length reviews of all of them. But I figured I should at the very least have a review of what is my (spoiler alert) very favorite book of 2011.

It's called The Piper's Sonand it is pure awesome.

The Deal: Tom Mackee's Uncle Joe died in the London subway bombings and it's only now, years after the fact, that his family is beginning to crawl out of their individual grief holes and figure out what the tragedy means to them as a family and to the friends they left behind. For Tom it means coming to terms with breaking the heart of the only girl he's ever loved and trying to make amends with his close friends who he shut out in the aftermath. For his Aunt Georgie, it means finding herself 42, pregnant, and ashamed to be in love with her baby's father. The book alternates between Tom and Georgie's viewpoint as we meet the entire Finch-Mackee family and watch them try to rebuild their family.

What Worked: I can't say everything, can I? Fine. Marchetta writes about grief better than anyone I've ever read. And there is a lot of grief in this book. Georgie's story is rich and deeply realized, giving respect to a character who wouldn't necessarily get respect in another YA novel. She is 40 after all. I love the way Marchetta ties history, both personal and communal, into the story. Every single break through is earned.

What Didn't Work: It's not so much a What Didn't Work as an I Want More, but I would have really liked to know more about Georgie, Dom and Joe's childhood and Georgie's first relationship with Sam.

Anything Extra Special?: YES. So this book follows the same characters as Saving Francesca aka the book that made me a Melina Marchetta fan girl. I missed Jimmy and Siobhan, but I loved catching up with Francesca, Justine, the psycho Tara Finke and of course, Tom. There are also mini appearances by characters from Marchetta's Printz award book Jellicoe Road. Blink and you'll miss them, pick up on it and you'll start praying for a crossover novel.

Would I Read It Again?: I already have.

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