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Froi of the Exiles

Froi of the Exiles - Melina Marchetta Reviewing a Melina Marchetta book always takes me longer than reading one, even a 600-page whopper like Froi of the Exiles. It's like this: If someone were to point to this penand ask, "What color is this?", the answer is easy.Blue.But if the person pointed to a rainbow and asked, "What color is this?", the answer is no longer simple because a rainbow is every color. Likewise, a Marchetta book can't be narrowed down to one thing or one emotion. It's every emotion.In Froi of the Exiles, as in Finnikin of the Rock, Marchetta shows the devastating effects of war, both internal and external, on people and on nations. But, despite the topic, her books aren't about devastation. They're about hope. They're about people. Marchetta finds the humanity in people deemed unworthy by other members of society, me included. The Froi I first met in Finnikin? Had it been up to me, he would be rotting somewhere in Sorel. Instead Marchetta refused to give up on Froi or on me and trusted that we'd learn and grow. Now he's the titular character and deservedly so because Froi's journey into Charyn is as complex and surprising as Froi himself. As she did in The Piper's Son, Marchetta introduces a new cast of characters to surround the supporting-turned-lead actor. And like in Piper, I found myself wondering, How does she DO that?? With Froi, Marchetta got me MORE invested in the story, gave me MORE characters to love, and found MORE ways to break my heart. And while introducing us to Quintana, Gargarin, Lirah, and the people of Charyn, she doesn't forget about Finnikin, Trevanion, Beatriss and the people of Lumatere. Then, because that's not enough, there's the storyline involving Lucian of Lumatere and Phaedra of Charyn. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but it's not more than you can handle. If anything, you want MORE.I'm being purposefully vague in my review because there's no way I can lay out this story better than Marchetta. If you've never read any of her books, there's a reason why people pay double the price of a US book to have her books shipped from Australia. Or, like me, they buy both the Australian and US editions. And ebook. And audiobook. I put my money where my mouth is when I tell you she is worth every penny. (Speaking of audiobooks, I've been listening to the audio version of Finnikin and Charyn is pronounced Sha-RIN, not CHAIR-in, which is what I'd been saying.)One thing about Marchetta that I think is often overlooked because she brings so much to the table is how funny she is. I laughed as much as I cried while reading Froi. Froi is a smartass to begin with, and combined with the grumpy old men and coddled manchildren of Charyn, there were scenes that had me laughing out loud. Catie is great at choosing the perfect song for a book. I'm better with movies. With Froi -- damaged, destructive, hopeful, wonderful Froi -- I kept being reminded of something Ethan Hawke as Troy said in Reality Bites:You can't navigate me. I may do mean things, and I may hurt you, and I may run away without your permission, and you may hate me forever, and I know that scares the living shit outta you 'cause you know I'm the only real thing you got.And Melina Marchetta: I love her. She breaks my heart again and again, but I love her.