The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis
Review submitted by Ashnela A.
Distraughtly emotional, ‘The Sidekicks’ differentiates mourning, through three adolescents, that grieve the ‘sudden’ death of their ‘best friend’ and ‘common denominator’. Inspired to write the novel due to the death of a close friend, author - Will Kostakis aspired the cathartic novel to be “hopeful”. “I’ve been writing to preserve him, understand his death, and mend my broken heart”, revealed Kostakis in an interview conducted by Melissa Albert, (sourced from ‘The B&N Teen Blog’).
Interestingly, the novel recurringly mentions Isaac’s ‘problem’ of consuming alcohol and illicit substances. Isaac was only sixteen when he passed, still in high school. The book tells of the ‘plenty’ of students attending ‘gatherings’ frequently and getting ‘blazed’. I was perplexed. For a student his age, shouldn’t drugs be less accessible? Even more, a student from one of ‘Australia’s most exclusive schools’? The story writes that Harley knew a ‘guy’. But, even then he didn’t ‘widely advertise it’, labelling it as a ‘service for mates’. Where could the many students (who weren’t close with Harley) supply their drugs from? I asked my elder brother (who studies at a different school), about this. And his reply was expected, yet still alarming - “There’s at least one drug dealer in every school”.
I knew there was a disreputable side to every school, even the ones with the most established and illustrious fronts. However, the unbothered manner he answered in, haunted me. It really does show that perceptions can be deceiving. Personas in the text, showcase this as well. Although, no one more intelligibly than the exalted ‘Olympic hopeful’. Ryan Thompson’s identity struggle sends an important message. Portrayed as a paragon of fear, he lives life prudently on the precipice of his biggest bridled secret. His attraction to men. Depicting Ryan being overwhelmingly terrified by people discovering his secret, and commonplace societal oppression, Kostakis paints himself vicariously - denouncing the treatment of same sex couples.
Through the meticulous language, the novel was able to genuinely convey the mannerisms of an adolescent and their individual mourning processes. The conscientiously intertwined perspectives coaxed readers to resonate with characters; immersing them in the storyline. The raw emotion yielded in the piece is the most valuable, connecting the characters with readers; making them comprehend the author’s earnestness.
Nevertheless, I am jaded. There was no urge to know what happens next. No urge to read the book quickly. Where is the author’s voice? His uniqueness? Perhaps, callowness has restricted me from enjoying the simplicity of the story. I pondered what the author could have improved, but could he? The aim was to emulate the grieving process from teen schoolboys’ perspectives.
Yet, something is amiss. Isaac was the constant in their lives. The pillar of the novel. Their solace. Shouldn’t he have played a bigger role in the storyline, separate from the occasional reminisce? The trio seem to recollect him for reasons that only supported their own characters’ development. Isaac Roberts is superficial here – simply serving a ‘function’. And the irony of that astounds me.