This book takes place five years after Saving Francesca. Only this time, the main character is Tom. I really liked Tom in Saving Francesca, but being in his head this time around does not compete. He is a very real, hurt, fallible human, and I think this is one of the areas Marchetta excels in. She has this gripping way of depicting humans and their flaws and strengths, and the realness of the characters is beautiful to experience. Her writing is spare, never too much, and yet it is so evocative. So evocative.
Family and friendship are two qualities that play the biggest role in this book. And they are depicted wonderfully. The love, pain, humor, tolerance, acceptance, annoyance--all the nuances are shown and splayed out in such a thoroughly enjoyable manner. They sweep you in and leave you breathless, make you feel like this is happening to you and not to someone else.
And the frienship between these people, between Francesca and Tara and Sobhain and Justine and Tom and Will and even Jimmy (though he didn't appear in this book save for references from the others), the love and care between them and the way the girls looked after the boys, the way the boys would put up a lot of fuss and talk a lot of smack (as the Aussies would put it, I think) but in the end were completely powerless to the girls and would do anything to please them, the humor and threats on telling on the boys to the rest of the girls . . . every aspect of their friendship was such a wonderful and delicate and strong and valuable thing, and I absolutely fell in love with them all for this. I really hope to read more about them in the future. I care about these characters like I rarely do, and my hat goes off to Melina Marchetta's for her wonderful talent.
Growing up and forgiveness and understanding are also beautifully depicted. Tom is in a lot of pain and carries a lot of anger, and the amazing thing about Marchetta is that she tells the story of his growth and change in SUCH A REAL WAY, you can't help but think this isn't fiction. I think it take a very talented writer to create characters that feel so REAL and true like that, and I admire her for that ability.
The only thing that at times confused me was the large number of family members in the story, and I had to stop time and time again to figure out who I was reading about. But this does not take much away from the beautiful, truly human story that is The Piper's Son.