Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

Annike: Hey guys! So as you may have seen in our September Wrap Up post, I recently finished Saving Francesca after rereading it. Only after that did I realise that The Piper’s Son was actually a companion novel to that story and because I loved Saving Francesca so much I knew I had to read that one too. I thought it would be best to do two little mini reviews on these 2 books since they kind of lead off one another and I loved them both.

Saving Francesca

6091712.jpgFrancesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.

Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.

I want to start by pointing out that this book is actually set right around where I live so I absolutely loved getting to read about my area and know pretty much all of the places Melina Marchetta was mentioning. This may have been one thing that made me feel really close to the story and the book in general and really left me super satisfied with pretty much all of the aspects.

The main thing that this story focuses and develops are the many characters. You have Francesca who is the main character and is simply trying to settle into the school she was thrown into for her senior years. And being majorly a boys school, all of the girls kind of have to band together and support one another. I loved Francesca as a character and the way she pretended to be shy when she really wasn’t. The girls she ended up grouping with were all so unique but so close and I felt like every one of them were amazing as well as the other boys in the group.

There isn’t too much going on in this story but I think one of the reasons that I love the story is because of how understated it is. The story is particularly moving and focuses on the challenges between families and friends in high school. Francesca is dealing with her mum slipping into depression in the story as well and I loved Melina Marchetta’s writing and the voices of her characters. The whole story is just very moving and touching. A huge recommendation! 4.5/5 stars.

The Piper’s Son

7417780.jpgAward-winning author Melina Marchetta reopens the story of the group of friends from her acclaimed novel Saving Francesca—but five years have passed, and now it’s Thomas Mackee who needs saving. After his favourite uncle was blown to bits on his way to work in a foreign city, Tom watched his family implode. He quit school and turned his back on his music and everyone that mattered, including the girl he can’t forget. Shooting for oblivion, he’s hit rock bottom, forced to live with his single, pregnant aunt, work at the Union pub with his former friends, and reckon with his grieving, alcoholic father. Tom’s in no shape to mend what’s broken. But what if no one else is either? An unflinching look at family, forgiveness, and the fierce inner workings of love and friendship, The Piper’s Son redefines what it means to go home again.

I think it really helped to read this book right after I had finished Saving Francesca because there really is something about the groups of friends and characters in that story that just made you want to keep learning about them. The Piper’s Son focused on Thomas (Tom) Mackee who was the cheeky and loud friend in the high school group an who utterly adored the girls that he was such great friends with.

But it is 5 years in the future which means all of the different characters were living their own lives and Tom was actually very removed from any of their lives anymore as he had totally iced everyone out after the death of his uncle. This absolutely devastated me at the beginning because I just loved all the characters and longed for them to be reconciled. But it was this pain that really engrossed me in the book as I got to read about Tom’s family, all their challenges as well as the way that Tom was picking up his life and trying to get his old friends back into it.

Again, the writing in this story was beautiful and there were heaps of new characters introduced who I really loved reading about. There is only a tiny bit of romance in this story which was similar to book 1 and I think that examining the platonic relationships was much stronger. I’m not sure that I liked it as much as Saving Francesca but that really shouldn’t take away from the story at all. In fact, I found it extremely inspirational and I was very engrossed with the story from page 1. Again, definitely a book I would recommend! 4/5 stars.

Annike: Thanks for reading guys! I know that those reviews were pretty vague and a little short but I hope it at least gave you a good idea of what the books are about and I really hope some of you decide to pick up these books because Melina Marchetta is an amazing author and story teller.



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