Marchetta Madness: Guest Post from Flannery of The Readventurer

I first met Flannery of The Readventurer through Goodreads. I’d seen her awesome reviews floating around and immediately wanted to be friends with her. She actually wrote a lovely post about Melina Marchetta the other day together with her co-bloggers, Tatiana and Catie, which you can check out here. Here’s Flannery, talking about The Piper’s Son, the companion novel to Saving Francesca.


I’m a firm believer that the quality of a book is not to be judged solely on the skill of the writer to craft sentences and tightly plot a story. Of course those things matter to an extent, but to me the value of a book increases exponentially if those finely-tuned sentences make me, as a reader, feel something for the character or recollect a memory from my own life. How many times have I read a book where someone close to the main character dies? A staggering number of times, but very few of them have actually made me revisit the pain I felt of losing someone special. How many times have I read a book where someone falls for someone else? Likewise, a huge number, but rarely in a way that brings butterflies skittering around my stomach in remembrance. My favorite book by Melina Marchetta is The Piper’s Son because it does both. It achieves both of these feats and so much more. Here’s a picture I drew as a placeholder for my Jellicoe Road review on Goodreads because Marchetta has the ability to rip the heart out of your chest and then serve it back to you, bit by bit, and you’ll enjoy the process:

Melina Heart

This is totally appropriate for The Piper’s Son

I think one of my favorite aspects of The Piper’s Son is the entire element of forgiveness, both in terms of family and friends. In the sickest of ways, it is those people who have the ability to hurt us the most but there are just some people you can never cut loose. Ever. I guess I see families (and friend groups, which are basically interchangeable with family to me) as a constant balancing act. At any given time, some people are completely stable, some are teetering, and others are holding on with the ends of their fingertips. As a friend and family member, I feel a duty to at least attempt to achieve equilibrium, whether or not that is possible. Young adult books always run the risk of glossing over actual emotional content — a friend will say something awful, the two characters stop talking, maybe a few jabs (verbal or physical) are exchanged, then they have a conversation and make up. Or hold the grudge forever. The Piper’s Son opens with Tom in the hospital. He hasn’t spoken to Francesca (from Saving Francesca) for ages but there she is, waiting for him when he awakens. The characters in TPS are angry for real reasons, they’re harboring so many emotions over events that happened in their lives and it all just feels so much more real than most YA books (or any books) I read. Marchetta writes this about Tom’s aunt Georgie, when she first sees him in the book: “[S]he’s walking across the road toward the house and there’s that look Tom’s become used to in his life with his aunt. It’s the unconditional love that flashes across someone’s face before they remember the shit.” (Loc. 189) Exactly. When I see my friends after some time has passed (years, in many instances) or I hear from my siblings, it’s the happy memories that come back first. The fun times. I can’t pretend I have as much drama going on in my life as the Finch and Mackee families do, but I’m sure it is a universal feeling. And a lot of those relationships are volatile at times, but would I be there for each and every one of them if they were in dire straits? I damn well better be, or I’m a lesser person than I think I am.

The US cover of The Piper’s Son makes me a little sad, not because it is an awful cover (it isn’t) but because the US publishers missed an opportunity to capture the image of loneliness (and perhaps despair) that is depicted so well on the Australian cover. I feel like this quote from the book, though it takes place in the evening, conveys the feeling present on the Aussie cover well: “Out here tonight, under the dullest of moons, Tom feels as if he’s the last man on earth. Six blocks east form the home he grew up in. Three blocks south from the university he dropped out of a year ago. Four blocks north of the bed he shared with Tara Finke that last night together when life made sense for one proverbial minute, before everything blew up.” (Loc. 109)

I don’t even find it necessary to tell you which cover is which.

Since I have neither the US cover nor the Aussie cover, this is how I reread about Tom and company:

I’m always worried that, upon rereading, a book won’t live up to the huge expectations my memory has built up for it over time. It sounds so cliché to say so, but I think my heart fell into its groove almost right away, maybe even on page one. They were all there—all the characters I love to love, from Georgie to Dom to Anabel. I know the fan favorite will always be Jellicoe. But if you’re looking for me, I’ll just be over there, chillin’ with the Mackees and Tom’s friends. They’re a messed up bunch for sure, but the foundations of their family and friendship are solid and I’m not going to find a more caring bunch of characters anywhere.

Thank you, Chachic, for giving me a reason to reread and reaffirm my love for The Piper’s Son. And because I said I would, here’s another picture, drawn just for the occasion. I’m not sure how familiar people in other countries are with the March Madness brackets for the US college basketball tournaments. I won’t go into it because I completely disregard how they work in my fake brackets for who would win a battle of contemporary YA authors:

Marchetta Madness

Marchetta Madness

As you can see, Melina Marchetta isn’t even participating in the early rounds, she just comes in to accept her prize at the end. It’s just as well. I love every author in those brackets but too many of my favorite books are written by one person.

Seize The Day,
The Readventurer


Thank you, Flann, for coming up with a guest post for my other favorite Marchetta! Love those illustrations and I totally agree with your brackets – Melina Marchetta will always come out as the winner.

Check out these Marchetta Madness posts in other blogs:
Alex talks about Marchetta’s secondary characters over at A Girl, Books and Other Things

37 thoughts on “Marchetta Madness: Guest Post from Flannery of The Readventurer

  1. Wow this post is awesome Flan! Everything you’ve said is so true! I also love the Aus cover of The Piper’s Son! and that drawing of Marchetta with that heart? I so went through all of that when reading it!

    • Me too, I LOVE the Aussie cover of Piper, it fits so much better with Tom’s story than the US hardcover. Although I’d heard MM mention on Twitter that the US paperback will have a more similar feel to the Aussie cover. I’m waiting to see what it will look like – might be persuaded to grab another copy because one can never have too many copies of a favorite book.

    • Thanks, Celina:) I could probably make an entire March Madness chart for YA authors. I think it starts with something like 65 teams, usually. Just imagine all the divisions! Parnormal Romance, Contemporary YA, Dystopian/Post-Apoc, Fantasy, Sci-Fi…

      • Would love to see that chart with all those brackets, Flann! Although I wonder how long it would take for you take make one of those. 😛

  2. :’-( That’s so true about friends and family – it’s the love memories that come back first (and make the most lasting impressions). Marchetta has such a talent for crafting messed up, dysfunctional families that are also very loving and close-knit. Great post today, Flannery!

    Although I’m not happy that Courtney Summers loses out on round one! I’ve gotta defend my favorite YA contemporary author. 😉

  3. I love this post almost as much as I love Tom (and you know how much I love Tom!)
    All of this is so true, Flann. This is exactly how I feel about this book.
    I know everyone says that Jellicoe is their favourite but I think TPS is just as spectacular.
    I want to re-read it instantly and sob for about a year. 😦

    [Also, I agree with Catie! Ms Summers totally should have won that round.]

    • Yeah, Mr. Mackee and company get overshadowed by Taylor and Jonah quite a bit but I doubt they mind too much. They’re too busy having a rowdy family reunion at the pub with live music.

      P.S. If you come back to this page, I’m plotting your demise unless you watch a movie with me soon. That is all.

    • Ah! I would never plot YOUR demise, Amy! I obviously meant that threat to Jo:) I agree that you need to read Courtney Summers if you haven’t. You are missing out on something amazing there.

  4. I can’t imagine someone reading Flann’s reviews and not wanting to be her friend. 🙂
    When I read this post, I feel so incredibly guilty for not feeling the same about The Piper’s Son. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but my favorite Marchetta contemporary is, and always will be, Looking For Alibrandi.

    I think that I should reread this and Francesca soon, though.
    Amazing post, Flann! I expected it to be fun, but you kind of left me speechless.

    • That’s what I was thinking while I was writing my post.
      1. How can I make Maja appreciate our friendship more; and
      2. How can I make Maja feel guilty for not loving Piper as much as me.

      I’m off to go collect my congratulations trophy…that I made for myself…just now…It’s a beer.

  5. You have such a way with words, Flannery, you leave me astonished. Jellicoe is my favourite book of all time, yes, but something about TPS brings me back to it time and time again. I think that because Jellicoe, like, emotionally damaged me, I wasn’t expecting TPS to live up to my high expectations for it, and what’s so special about TPS to me is that it exceeded and went above and beyond anything I could have expected.

    Excellently written post, Flannery, and I love the Brackets too!

    • Thanks for the kind words, though I’m not so sure I deserve them. I think the reason I like Piper more than Jellicoe, and don’t get me wrong I love them both, is that Piper is more contained. It’s one neighborhood, one extended family/friend group, and I was always more interested in the characters and their history than the whole territory wars in Jellicoe.(though I know they are connected)

      • Flann, I think that’s also why I loved Piper – because it wasn’t as confusing as Jellicoe and I only had to follow one group of family/friends. If I had to choose a favorite, I really can’t decide between Jellicoe and Piper so I just keep recommending all of MM’s novels. 🙂

  6. Flannery, I love this so much — especially since I can imagine Chachic’s face when you dropped your March Madness reference. 😛 The Piper’s Son made me a believer in all that is good and Marchetta. And I’m so happy Cath Crowley got far in your bracket too! She’s totally underappreciated IMHO.

    • Hahaha, I HAD to put a March Madness reference in there. I thought she was clever from the get-go with her play on words. The only other person I can think of with March in their last name (well, literary-wise) is the March Family from Little Women. And making brackets of who would win anything in the March family would be an exercise in futility because Jo kicks so much ass. Amy is pretty scrappy, though, maybe I shouldn’t discount her. And Marmie can really cut people down with words if she wants to;-)

      I won a US copy of Graffiti Moon a few weeks ago. I need to get A Little Wanting Song to go with it!

  7. I ordered the Aussie version a few days back. I love how we all seem to be pulled in by it. The moment I saw that man walking away, shoes in hand, alone, it just called out to me. I miss this book. I can’t wait to reread it soon. I love this post Flann. You put everything I love about Tom and the book into words that I have yet not quite managed to convey. ❤

    • Aly, it really is a beautiful edition. I knew I wanted that edition even before I read the book. But since I couldn’t wait to read Tom’s story, I went ahead and bought the US hardcover first. After that, I was more convinced that the Aussie cover is perfect for Tom. Hope you get your Aussie edition soon. 🙂

  8. Flann

    This post is so well said.

    both in picture form (the heart platter, genius. perfect)

    the good thing about this week is it is making me nostalgic for all the MM books.

    and you are SO RIGHT about all the dead people in books, yet in MM’s you truly feel it.

    Hope you get an Aussie edition one day.

    also, I love how Sara Zarr made it so far through 🙂

    but where is Jaclyn Moriarty!!?! 😉

    • See, this is why Flann should do a comprehensive March Madness chart complete with brackets for all our favorite YA authors. 😛 Nomes, you’re not the only one. I’ve been suckered by my own blog event and currently rereading Francesca. I also love the image that Flann made for her Jellicoe review and yes, it’s perfect for Piper as well (and the rest of MM’s novels).

  9. Flannery, I think that if I had to sum up my life during the writing of The Piper’s Son it would be word for word what you said about the constant balancing act and how some of us were teetering and others holding on with their fingertips. And one day if you’re ever in Sydney I’ll show you the road Georgie crosses to get to the house, and the six blocks east and the three blocks south and the four blocks north.

    • I’m in the middle of rereading Piper now and yay, I feel good because I get the reference. Looks like I need to add visiting Sydney to my bucket list so I can check out that place (as well as all the other locations mentioned in your novels). Anyway, I think Flann did a great job of describing the amazing writing in Piper – personal relationships do involve a lot of work and is a constant balancing act.

  10. Great post!
    I know what you mean, when I first started to listen to The Piper’s Son, it was as a little awkward for a chapter or two, but then I was right back in the groove of things and it was awesome.

    I actually don’t like the US cover, and I’m guilty of cover snobbery and of blowing up some of my pay on procuring an Aussie copy of Piper’s Son even though I already owned the US one.

    • Alex, the Aussie edition is totally worth the extra cost! It’s so pretty, I can’t stop staring at it while I’m rereading. I didn’t even want to crack it open but my US hardcover is with a friend and I felt like rereading the book during Marchetta Madness (still in the middle of it now).

  11. Pingback: Marchetta Madness: Random Facts | Chachic's Book Nook

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