The First Third
by Will Kostakis
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 sometime. And then what?
The First Third is a splendid book about family traditions, Greek grandmothers and friendship by the awesome Australian author, Will Kostakis. I’ve been wanting to read this books for a while so I’m glad I finally saw one and took it home with me. It was such a quick read at just 247 pages but there is so much emotion, heartache and fun on the pages.
Billy is a fantastic main character. He’s honestly so fun and I don’t really know how to explain him. He’s coming of age and enjoying his youth but he’s mature and does have a lot of weight on his back because of his family. His love for his grandmother and family is inspiring but it constantly gets him into trouble when his yiayia gives him a crazy bucket list of things that seem almost impossible. Also, his love life was a total disaster for most of the book and it was hilarious! I’m in love with this guy, especially in his weaker moments where his biggest fears are presented to him.
The secondary characters were actually very well written as well with a lot of back story to each character. It wasn’t the case where these characters were created to aid the main character on their journey but instead, they all had their own goals and issues. Billy’s brothers were near to him in the same country (even if Brisbane seems very far away from Melbourne) but worlds away with their feelings and honesty towards each other. His mother struggled to find love and start her life again. His best friend, Lucas, is plagued by what people see and expect when they look at him and the girl he likes has a lot of responsibility that keeps her from having the fun, young life expected at her age.
There was so much food in this book as well so it made me super hungry. From what I’ve read and seen from friends it seems like Greek families are so dedicated to their traditions and that showed in this book where their food (passed down from family members before them) was constantly referenced and they continued their family traditions each year. I really enjoyed looking into that window of a culture I’m not part of and understanding what they share. They seem like a wonderful, and sometimes dramatic, bunch!
It was a fantastic and short read that made me equal parts happy and sad. The message of family and people’s idea of it throughout the three stages of their lives is true. The Facebook status updates at the start of the chapters were also cool with the story. I laughed aloud at a lot of parts, especially at his grandmother’s antics, and even shed a tear at the end for the bittersweet close and books rarely move me to tears. I’m so interested in this author now and I’ll definitely be reading more of his work.
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