Melina Marchetta... Only she could write a YA book where the main protagonists are a 21-year-old boy and his 42-year-old aunt -- and make you CARE so, so much. A slew of new characters is introduced in this book, and the fact that the majority of them are from Tom Mackee’s aunt’s world does nothing to dampen the appeal to a YA audience. The reason for this is the skill with which Marchetta writes relationships between people regardless of age or gender. Adults aren’t stock characters who exist only in relation to a teen protagonist in her books. The adults in Piper’s Son not only have their own lives, but they have their own friends. I know, crazy huh? Did we ever see Jim and Cindy Walsh just hanging out with their friends??That’s not to say that the entire book is about the adults, just that they get equal billing and importance as we catch up with the lives of our old friends Tom, Francesca, Justine, etc. Tom refers to Francesca, Justine, Siobhan, and Tara as “the four horsewomen” and he needs them to pull him back from the brink, even though he hasn’t talked to them for the past 2 years. Siobhan is in London and “that psycho Tara Finke” is in East Timor (soooo Tara, right??) but what is distance to a group of girls with cell phones and email? I love the way Marchetta writes female relationships because girls like the four horsewomen, who unquestioningly have each other’s backs, are just as real and true as Mean Girls. I lived abroad for two years with one best friend in Atlanta and another in Los Angeles, yet nothing major happened in their lives that I didn’t know about. It was harder and a more expensive to stay in touch, but moving away doesn’t mean the end of relationships unless you’re 6 years old. We get a glimpse into the future of our four horsewomen with the relationship between Aunt Georgie and her best friend Lucia. What Lucia says to Georgie after Georgie tells her she already went maternity bra shopping with a co-worker just kills me.So many different aspects of relationships are explored -- not just parent-child but also stepparent-stepchild, sibling-sibling and sibling-sibling’s spouse, etc. I could go on and on about this book because I loved the characters so much and just wanted to be part of their crazy, extended family, but I’ll stop here and just say, Read. This.One minor not-even-complaint: Jimmy Hailler was probably my favorite character in Saving Francesca and I wish there was more Jimmy in this book. Maybe that just means Marchetta is writing a Jimmy-centric book next?? I can only hope. Either way, whatever Melina Marchetta writes next, even if it's just a grocery list, I'll be reading.