Publisher: Penguin Australia
Release Date: July 24, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
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.
‘”Luck favours the prepared, I guess.”‘
The First Third is substantially a book of beginnings, not endings. It’s about the first third of life, and how to jump- not stumble- to the second third. It’s a book about coming of age even. It’s a book filled with a multifarious characters, diverse personalities and aspects. Homosexuality, disabilities, family, friendship and love are all addressed throughout in a manner that reflects reality and in ways, can be blunt.
The central story line is about Billy given the task from his grandmother to finish her bucket list. It may just be three things, but no one ever said gluing his family back together was simple. Billy’s character wasn’t anything significant, which was actually rather appropriate here in this novel. An absolutely average character living an absolutely normal life- despite unfortunate events in between.
The puns utilised by Kostakis was rather interesting and slightly humorous. While I wasn’t convinced when introduced to the puns (moussaka and lasagne), I ended up growing to love them. While I wouldn’t say it was a play on words, but more like symbolism in it’s most direct form.
The First Third is not a novel about fossicking on the beach and climbing sand dunes, it’s not light and all happiness. There are several obscure and deep core topics like death, illnesses and loss. The way The First Third is written is magnificently artful, to expose these situations while still telling the story of an old teenage boy attempting to accomplish his grandmother’s bucket list.
If anything, the relationships illustrated was The First Third was the strongest part. From family relationships and friend relationships to love interests, the bag is quite a colourful scheme. They are flawed, fragile and frustrating but they are genuine. The way each of them untangled and twisted was utterly absorbing.
Per contra, I somewhat felt the plot wasn’t moving much. The complexity and movement was ambiguous and slow. The end had no such climax and was abrupt- I see where Kostakis is going with this- but I couldn’t help but feel not enough life thrown about. After all, life is not easy, it’s harder than that. With the minor quibble of trying too hard in the humour department, The First Third was overall a satisfactory book.
A mixture of a bit of everything in life, The First Third is what I call truly Australian.
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