Thursday, August 11, 2011

Saving Francesca and The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta Review

Saving Francesca
By Melina Marchetta

May 9, 2006
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 243 pages
Source: Library

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastians, a boys' school that's pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an 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, along, and without an inkling 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.

— description

The Piper's Son
By Melina Marchetta

March 8, 2011
Candlewick, 336 pages
Source: Library

Award-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 favorite 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.

— description

I said this when I reviewed Jellicoe Road last year, and the same advice holds true for Saving Francesca and its followup, The Piper’s Son: Melina Marchetta's books start off slow, but do not quit reading them. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

Her writing is just so lovely. The dialog is sharp and funny and relatable, and the themes in these books are heartbreaking. They’re standalone novels, though you’ll probably get more meaning out of them if you read them back-to-back.

However, I don’t get why so many readers are swoony over these books, because my heart ached while reading this…and not in a “ooh-la-la heartache” way. The prevalent themes in both are friendship and depression, and you could feel the sorrow through every word.

Still, these are important, well-written, beautiful books that would appeal to more mature readers. Definitely check them out.

Anna Reads young adult book blog


  1. I LOVE Melina Marchetta... Pretty much with all of my reading being... But not in a swoony way... I do love many of the characters, but you shouldn't be feeling about these books as you would a Dessen or Perkins novel. They are SO very different.

    I don't know of many, if any authors that I think do slightly damaged but still totally relatable and lovable teen the way Melina can.

  2. I adored Saving Francesca and am close to finishing The Piper's Son.

    I agree, definite slow burners, particularly The Piper's Son - she does tend to throw the reader into the middle of the action with a few too many characters and sub plots to contend with.

    Yes, challenging, but ultimately rewarding. The characters really get under your skin and their is such an honesty to her dialogue.

  3. Good to know her books start off slow but are worth it in the end!

  4. I can't wait to read them for myself. The Piper's Son is in my short TBR pile.

  5. You have a fabulous blog! I'm your newest follower. I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give to fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. I want to award you with the Best Books Blog Award for all the hard work you do!

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  6. Jellicoe Road is one of my very favorites. I liked Saving Francesca, but got totally bogged down in Piper's Son, and gave it up. So for me, she's really uneven.

  7. I adore these books but as I've said before... they broke me. Particularly The Piper's Son. Beautiful and poignant but oh so emotional!

  8. I didn't enjoy Saving Francesca as much as Jellico Road but am looking forward to reading Piper's Son. I'm hopeful I'll like it as much as those in the rest of the blogosphere have.

  9. You already know how I feel about these books - seeing as though I'm the one who told you to read them lol - but you said it right, it's a heart breaking kinda good. I'm not swoony for Thomas - my heart HURTS for Thomas. I just want to bury him in my arms & tell him he's going to be ok. I LOVE books that make me feel that way. This author is brilliant.

  10. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts and opinions about the books. Sounds like a great read!!

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