Title: The Sidekicks
Author: Will Kostakis
Year published: 2016
Rating: Would definitely re-read.
Why I read it: It was recommended by a podcast I listen to.
Blurb: The Swimmer. The Rebel. The Nerd. All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were sidekicks. And now that Isaac’s gone, what does that make them?
- My favourite thing about the book is that it deals with grief in different ways without making the book feel like it’s a book about grief. I mean, it is about grief, but it also felt like a book about moving on, about self-acceptance, about building friendships and learning to let people know you.
- It explores different ways of coping with loss, and the complexities of readjusting to life after losing someone who played a significant part in your life. All three boys lost the same person, but also different people, and who Isaac was to them colours the ways in which they process that loss. Ryan lost his support system, one of the only people he could talk to who knew about his sexuality. He deals with his grief by applying himself to his training and by attempting to forge new bonds with people he previously dismissed as acquaintances and opening up to new people, despite his fears. Harley lost his partner in crime. To me, Harley’s loss felt the least significant, not because he didn’t care and was not affected by it, but because I don’t think he needed Isaac in the same way the other two did. But his story is interesting because we see him struggle with guilt for having provided drugs on the day of Isaac’s death, and making atonements to Isaac’s family and friends in his own ways. Lastly, I think Miles felt the loss the most. I don’t remember if it is explicitly stated in the novel, but it is at least implied that Isaac was Miles’ only friend, and that their friendship was fraught with insecurities on Isaac’s side. Reading about Miles coping with the loss of his friend was the hardest because of the way it juxtaposed his intense need to sneak away to watch footage of Isaac in order to maintain an illusion of still having him around, with a spiralling belief that their friendship wasn’t even real to begin with.
- I really liked that the farther I got into the book, the clearer it became that Isaac was not always the greatest friend. That for all his good qualities, and all the ways he was important to these three boys, he was flawed. To me this is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that Miles, Ryan and Harley never became real friends until after Isaac’s death.
- I really liked the metaphor Miles spins about being the supporting cast in a TV show where the lead actor goes off to pursue a movie career. It was great for both painting a picture of how it feels to lose a friend, and for making it clear how Miles was feeling about his own part in all of this.
- Stylistically I found it a little difficult to read Miles’ bits because of its lack of contractions, but it served a character purpose.
- I appreciate that each narrative overlapped but didn’t cover the same events from different angles. Harley and Miles’ perspectives revisited the important bits of previous parts in a way that didn’t feel repetitive. Furthermore, I liked that Miles’ was saved to last, because by the time I got to his bit I had conceived this image of him as the smart and level headed one, and it was fascinating to see how his coping mechanisms in some ways were the opposite of that.
- My only complaint is that I wish it was longer. But I also think it ended exactly where it needed to, so I’m not too fussed.
I can’t wait to read Kostakis’ other books!