Scot Gardner and Will Kostakis have effortlessly portrayed the importance of mateship in their latest offerings.
In The Way We Roll, Will, an ex-private school boarder who now works as a trolley boy, is homeless. He meets Julian, a ‘Westie’ who lives with his mother and older brother. His father lives separately in a flat close by but all seem to get on well. However, it is obvious Julian’s brother has had a troubled past. The reason for this is revealed later in the novel as the family attempt to help Will. Will is full of mystery. His mother died when he was five years old. He has been in boarding school since and his celebrity father has had a string of girlfriends since, all of a similar type that his celebrity status attracts. His sister, to whom he is close, lives too far away to help when his world comes crashing down. Julian and Will, although coming form very different backgrounds, become close friends as they try and untangle what has occurred. There are quite a few instances in this book where all questions are not answered explicitly, allowing the reader to form their own narrative. This does not leave the reader wanting, rather it enables one to have ownership, making the story one’s own.
The concept of unlikely people becoming friends is at the centre of The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis. When Ryan, Miles and Harley are called to the Deputy Principal’s office together, they are suspicious. They might hang out together but Zac is the common element and he is not there. He has died in an accident, and they all grieve and cope with this loss in very different ways. The book has three sections, each written from the first person viewpoint of each boy. Through these the reader learns of how they and those close to Zac cope with their grief. We also learn of each boy’s own lives. Ryan is gay and scared to come out to his mother and school mates. The fact she is Head of English at his school does not help the situation. Miles, who seems to never break rules, is hiding some illegal money-making racket he and Zac had going, while Harley is battling with his personal family troubles. Kostakis deals with grief, loss and mateship in sensitive ways, while also being laugh out loud funny. All three boys, and Zac as the fourth, are loveable in their own way. And I agree with Miles, “I do not trust anyone who leaves home without a book. It is just not right” (p. 165). I can’t wait to discuss these books with some of my students.