“Mrs Evans’s features soften. She says he died.
I fall out of myself. I picture us contained within a 16:9 frame sitting opposite her desk: me in the winter uniform, full blazer with pants; Ryan in the summer option, shorts and knee-high socks; Harley in his own custom casual interpretation, a shirt that is slightly untucked but not completely, a top button that is undone but obscured by a tie, and white socks visible only when he sits and his trouser legs ride up. The three of us stare at her, stunned.
“Wait, what?’ Harley asks.”
Will Kostakis’s writing has an echo – a powerful punch that hits you after you’ve read the words, so you’re floored by a wash of understood or new meaning hours (even days) later. I’ve had this experience reading all his mature work (The First Third, and particularly his short story for the Begin End Begin Anthology, I Can See the Ending) and I noticed it strongly with The Sidekicks, the story of three boys all loosely connected once the glue of their relationship – another boy, Isaac – dies.
The voices are faultless: closeted swimmer Ryan; working-class rebel and class joker Harley; uptight, aspiring film-maker Miles. Each one has a unique point of view, and each had a different relationship with Isaac – the story is about how they find individual direction after Isaac’s death, but also how the event leads them back to a stronger bond with each other.
I loved this book, and I love Will’s writing. He somehow creates beautiful turns of phrase out of plain language, and he writes from a place of vulnerability and insight that I find deeply affecting. He’s also funny – we know Will can be funny, but the way he shows each boy’s personal sense of humour is a delight. Above all, the boys feel real: they’re all flawed, and flawlessly constructed, each grieving in their own way, each desperate for connection but needing a push to break through. As the Readings review states, “I found that as each section came along I loved that boy the most, and I couldn’t help but see the other two through his eyes.”
I hope you enjoyed The Sidekicks as much as I did. Please add to our discussion of the book in the Facebook thread, or leave a 1-5 star rating if you’re time poor.
I’ll be announcing the next title for bookclub tomorrow, and I’m going to try something a bit new, starting in June: I’d like to reduce the logjam of bookclub posts as I return to more consistent blogging, so I’ll be doing a short reveal on the FB group page and on the #LoveOzYAbookclub page on this site, then at the end of the month the discussion post will also be short and sweet. I’ll still post additional bookclub content (author Q&A’s etc) here on the site’s bookclub page, but I’m going to try to direct bookclub content mainly back to the FB group page. I hope that’s okay!
Anyway, please do leave your review of The Sidekicks, and any comments you’d like to make about the book, and see you again soon for the next title announcement!