Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Review: The First Third by Will Kostakis

Title: The First Third
Author: Will Kostakis
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Release Date: 24th July 2013
Source: Bought
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Description: 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.

The First Third is a heart warming story filled with charm, love and wit. Will Kostakis’s endearing story is one that is sure to capture your attention as you learn about Bill, his family and his friends. Centred on family relationships The First Third delves into the bonds that shape us and the complicated temperament of family. Bill’s moving story is one that will make you smile, laugh, and cry. Most of all it will affirm your faith in in love and family.

Bill’s grandmother “Yiayia” gives him a bucket list when she goes into hospital for surgery. Now its up to Bill to finish the list and fulfil his grandmothers wishes. Bill has to fix his younger brother Peter, find a husband for his mother and find a girlfriend for his gay older brother.  In his attempt to complete the list Bill learns not only about what he wants in the future, he also learns about the value of family and friends. I read this book with a huge smile on my face. Kostakis’s writing is so effortless to immerse yourself in.  This is a story that is instantly relatable with characters that will become your friends.

The relationships in this book are front and centre. Kostakis explores the value of family and the various forms of love. The First Third delves into the bonds between brothers, friends, parents, and grandparents. Each relationship is complicated and never the same. Family might not do what you expect them to, but deep down you love them and will be there for them. Family can be difficult, messy and intricately complicated and it’s a lesson that Bill learns in earnest. It’s not only about the family you have but the family you make.  Parts of this story are light and humours but underneath it all loss, fear and uncertainly play a role in shaping Bill’s journey.

Greek customs are infused into this story. Bill’s family is Greek and the influence his Yiayia has had on his family’s life is evident in his upbringing. Even though this story is about a Greek family, you can see reflections of your own relationships with family members and friends in The First Third. The situations and experiences encountered are certain to mirror your own. As Bill tries to complete his grandmother list and put his family back together he faces many challenges, most of which put him in numerous awkward situations. The comedy of errors that play out are sure to make you grin, especially when he tires to find his mother a husband or go to the gym. Oh, the horrors of online dating and exercise.

The love between these characters is palpable and you can see how much they care for one another. Yiayia is such a vibrant character who is larger than life. She’s a loving grandmother who holds everything together. Peter was difficult and Simon was distant. All three brothers were very different from each other. Bill is a wonderful protagonist. He is nerdy, geeky and selfless. He has such devotion towards his family and friends. Bill is someone I would love to have a friend, Lucas too. Lucas and Bill share a bromance that was just simply brilliant. Bills status updates also provide much hilarity. The First Third is also a book of firsts. First love and first kisses.  The romance in this book was sweet, even though Bill goes through many romantic woes. The First Third is built on small touching moments that occur between the characters, right from Bill learning how to ride a bike, cooking moussaka and blind dates.

The First Third is a book that is not to be missed. A heart-warming story that is simply charming. I highly recommend this book. It has plenty of soul.

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