Well, I wouldn't be me if I'd managed to run a series without missing a day, right? So I'll be doubling up today.
There is no actual piping in The Piper's Son, but there's a ton of music, and Tom Mackee's father, Dominic, is known to his family as 'the piper' because he's got a knack for talking anyone into anything, for inspiring people with differing opinions to come together, and for being the sort of magnetic person that other people almost can't help but follow.
Or, well, he used to be.
The Piper's Son is set five years after Saving Francesca, and, as you may have gathered, it focuses on Tom Mackee. Francesca, Justine, Will, Tara, and others from the first book make appearances, but Tom and his family—immediate and extended—are front-and-center. (So much so, actually, that the story is just as much his aunt Georgie's as it is Tom's.)
It's been over a year since Tom's uncle was killed in a bombing on the London Underground, but he's still suffering from the emotional fallout: his parents have separated, and his mother and sister are living hundreds of miles away; he hasn't seen his father in months; the girl of his dreams is halfway around the world, and probably hates him.
There's more, much more, but I can't even. Like every other Melina Marchetta book I've read—which, now, is all of them except for the Lumatere Chronicles—The Piper's Son is just about, I dunno, the human freaking experience. About love and loss and screwing up and having faith in each other and life and death and memory and need and connection and forgiveness. If you've never read her, you're missing out: her portrayal of family is up there with Hilary McKay, and her portrayal of friendships eclipses even Sarah Dessen (which is a tall order). And beyond the characters she creates, her dialogue and prose are tip-top-shelf/notch/rung perfection unchained. I love her.
As in Jellicoe Road, she drops you into the story with no warning whatsoever, so the first fifty pages will be spent trying to figure out the relationships in the Mackee/Finch family. At least, that was how long it took me to get everyone straight. Also as in Jellicoe Road, she hits that sweet spot between joy and heartbreak... and just holds it. When I hit the last quarter of the book, I read a page that made me burst into noisy sobs, then turned to the page and read something that made me laugh out loud. Literally on both counts. And then, for the rest of the book, I carried on with that amazingly cathartic laugh/cry combination.
There's a plot point—one of the moments that made me laugh out loud while blubbering—that hinges on Paul Kelly's How to Make Gravy*, a Christmas song that for me, also hits that perfect joy/heartbreak feeling, so I'm going to wind this post up with that (and go to get the box of Kleenex):
*And, for Kelly fans, there's another little bit about To Her Door, though it's never mentioned by name.
Book source: ILLed through my library.