As a male I really value authentic male teenage characters in YA books. I find those ‘hot, bad boys’ very fake, whereas the nerdy, sweary guys feel like the guy I was and a lot of the guys I knew. I’m always on the look out for books with authentic male teenage characters and books that focus on male friendship, because it’s these books that I want to get into the hands of teenage guys. The new book by Aussie author Will Kostakis, The Sidekicks, is one of these books, and I think every teenage guy should read it.
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?
I loved The Sidekicks! I wish this book had been around when I was a teenager because it would have totally clicked with me. Will makes you feel like you are part of the characters’ lives and that you’re one of the Sidekicks too. Will absolutely nails what it’s like to be a teenage guy and the often awkward friendships between different guys.
The Sidekicks follows three teenage guys after the death of their friend, the one guy who was holding their group together. They are all quite different guys who were friends with Isaac, but they don’t have anything in common with each other. Ryan is The Swimmer, whose mum teaches at his school (which creates its own problems), and who is hiding a secret. Harley is The Rebel, the guy who would drink with Isaac and was with him on the night that he died. The papers imply that Isaac killed himself but Harley knows he wouldn’t do this and tries to set the story straight. Miles is The Nerd, the intelligent one of the group who works hard, but also has a side business that he ran with Isaac selling essays. Although Isaac is no longer around their friendship with him might be enough to help them through.
This is not just about friendship though. It’s about three guys who are dealing with grief in different ways. Like a lot of males they don’t really want to talk to anyone about it, especially the school guidance counsellor. Harley feels guilty because he could have stopped what happened to Isaac, and he wants to do what he can to set the story straight. Miles holds on to Isaac through the film that he made starring Isaac. Through his film Miles continues to have conversations with Isaac, even if it is just Isaac’s smiling face paused on the screen.
The ending of The Sidekicks is absolutely perfect and it made me want to go right back to the start and take that journey with those characters again. I’ll be eagerly awaiting Will Kostakis’ next book and putting The Sidekicks into the hands of any teenage guys I can.