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Thursday, 1 August 2013

Review: The First Third

17-year-old Billy Tsiolkas isn’t ready to grow up. He’s happy with the way things are, but his grandmother decides it’s time for Billy to move on to the next stage of his life. When Yiayia becomes ill, she challenges Billy to take on her role as the glue that holds the family together and it would take a stronger man than Billy to say No when Yiayia Filyo asks for a favour.

The First Third had me laughing and crying (sometimes both at the same time). The story has so much humour and is very entertaining, but there is also a wonderful sense of reality in the portrayal of the family relationships and friendships that makes this novel quite heart-warming and relatable.

Billy is a wonderful central character, with his great sense of humour, disaster-prone love life, affection for his family and friends, and appreciation for the all the wonderful (and not quite as wonderful) aspects of his Greek heritage.

Billy’s brothers, mother and best friend Lucas bring their own element of humour and substance to the story, but it is Billy’s own efforts to fulfil his grandmother’s hospital bed request that will captivate readers. Yiayia Filyo is also a commanding presence throughout the story and anyone with a family matriarch will readily appreciate her influence and significance within the family circle.

The First Third is really a coming-of-age story, focusing on Billy’s growing awareness that it is time for him to step up to a more active role within his family with the not-so-subtle guidance of his grandmother. With references to online dating, Twitter, same-sex relationships and fractured modern families, this really is a relevant modern story with an entertaining Greek/Australian cultural twist.

Filled with wonderful dialogue, engaging characters and bucket loads of humour and heart, The First Third is another fantastic YA novel from Australian author Will Kostakis.

Title: The First Third
Author: Will Kostakis
Publisher: Penguin, $17.99 RRP
Publication Date: 24 July 2013
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780143568179
For ages: 15+
Type: Young Adult Fiction

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