Published by Penguin Australia on July 24, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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Life is made up of three parts: in the first third, you're embarrassed by your family; in the second, you make a family of your own; and in the end, you just embarrass the family you've made.
That's how Billy's grandmother explains it, anyway. She's given him her bucket list (cue embarrassment), and now, it's his job to glue their family back together.
No pressure or anything.
Fixing his family's not going to be easy and Billy's not ready for change. But as he soon discovers, the first third has to end some time. And then what?
It's a Greek tragedy waiting to happen.
To Billy’s grandmother, family is everything. This is the lesson that she passes down to her grandson Billy, through the form of a bucket list that she asks him to complete to glue his family together.
As his yiayia explains the circle of life, The First Third is where you get embarrassed by your family, the second is where you make a family of your own, and the third is where you embarrass the family that you’ve made. This book follows The First Third and progression into the second.
Billy’s love for his family and yia yia captured beautifully within the pages. He does his best to complete the bucket list with three seemingly impossible tasks, such as finding his mother a boyfriend, making his brother move back to Sydney, and fixing the relationship between him and his younger brother.
The relationships within the book is the heart of the story. Billy has a lot of affection for his family and wants the best for everyone, and that’s what his yia yia is relying on. There were quite a few touching moments as he started to connect with his distant brother, as he helped his mother get through a difficult time, and as he reminisced on happy times with his family. There’s no doubt it will make you think of your own family at times.
The humour within the book had me laughing out loud at times, and there were a few scenes that were pure comedy gold, such as Billy and his best friend Stick “narrating people’s thoughts in funny voices” at the weights section of the gym and Billy’s first date with “an older girl”. These boys are going through some pretty heavy stuff, with Billy’s grandmother in hospital and Stick who has cerebral palsy and is also gay, but their outlook on life kind of gave it a lot of heart.
Will Kostakis has written a beautiful family oriented story about the fear of losing loved ones and pulling them together. Despite the heavy topics handled within the books such as dealing with death, illness, family and relationships, it is told in a fresh, uplifting and heart felt manner. Featuring new beginnings, sad endings, and hilarious discoveries, The First Third is a sweet and touching debut that I highly recommend to everyone.
Thanks to Penguin Books Australia for this review copy, in exchange for an honest review. This is a book that makes me proud to be Australian and I hope more authors follow in Will’s footsteps.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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