Review: The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

Tom Mackee’s life is a mess.  And he just wants to forget about the things which caused his life to become a mess.  He wants to forget the friends he once spent every waking hour wife, the girl he’s been in love with since he was teenager, the mother and sister who moved across the country, the alcoholic father who walked out on him and the uncle who was blown into so many pieces that there was no body to retrieve.

His plan to forget and sink into blissful oblivion consists of one night stands and copious amounts of dope.  Basically, since his Uncle Joe died in the London bombings, Tom has hit rock bottom and can’t possibly sink any lower until he comes home from one particular bender to find his flatmates have thrown his belongings out onto the front lawn.

With nowhere left to go, Tom crash lands onto his pregnant aunt Georgie’s doorstep – his aunt who is so deeply in denial about her pregnancy even though it is blatantly obvious to everyone just how pregnant she is.  Georgie takes him in letting him stay in the attic he would hide away in as a teen.  It’s also the place he first brought his love interest, Tara Finke.  Tara is the girl he can’t forget, no matter how much he tries.  Theirs was a relationship of stolen glances, fluttering touches and one night of lust.

In an attempt to pay back money his flatmates stole, Tom gets a job at the Union pub and is forced back into the fold with his old friends.

The relationships between Tom and his family are wonderfully portrayed – the push/pull, the tortured interactions, the way they hate each other but love each other, the dynamics between the family members and the way they change.  Tom realizes each of his family members are just as broken and tortured as he is.

Each character is beautifully broken and flawed and written in the most realistic way by the author who brought us ‘Looking for Alibrandi’.  Melina Marchetta takes a devastating event and explores beyond the actual event, extending the story to the after effect, the way it impacts upon those left behind: their relationship, their actions and every aspect of their lives.

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