Friends on the side

The SidekicksThe Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sidekicks is Will Kostakis’s third YA novel. After The First Third, I had Will pegged as a warm and sensitive YA author – that reading his books is like settling into a comfy corner with old friends and catching up over a coffee. This new novel is so much more than that. It is worldly, it is timely and it captures the complicated world that is teenage relationships and identity really well.
Issac is dead. Drowned after falling/jumping from a boat while intoxicated. The book traces the fallout of his demise by following the three people who knew him best – or thought they did – Ryan, Harley and Miles. Ryan, the swimmer, is the son of the Vice Principal. He and Isaac were very close. Isaac was the only person Ryan confided in – the only one who knew Ryan is gay, that he has a boyfriend named Todd. With Isaac gone, Ryan’s world begins to implode. Harley is the classic rebel and disappears after Isaac’s death. When he returns he tries to make connections with Miles and Ryan but he struggles because Isaac was the thing they had in common. Miles is the nerdy one – the high achiever often teased by Isaac, but devoted to him nonetheless. Miles retreats into himself after Isaac’s death – obsessed with footage he shot as part of a film-making project.
The emotion Kostakis is able to convey through these characters is affecting and rings true. There will be many young people who read this book and readily identify these characters in their own circle of friends and perhaps identify WITH them too. There is an intricacy in this novel that was not apparent in The First Third and it makes this novel a rich and wonderful thing. In light of the growing awareness of LGBTQI issues and the campaign against intolerance, this book is a highly important one in the Australian YA landscape. Read it, then share it with a young person you know. I wish everyone would read this book – it would be a better place for it.
For ages 13 and up

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