28 May, 2014

Book Review: The First Third

From Goodreads: 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.

Thoughts:  This is the fourth book on the Children's Book Council short list for older readers. 
The first third is a book about love. Family love, romantic love, friendship love - messy, confusing, wonderful love.
From reading other reviews I take that Will Kostakis has drawn heavily from his own life when writing this book. For me that has infused it with an authenticity that is hard to manufacture. I completely believed the characters, the events and the feelings of Bill Tsiolakis (a nod to The Slap author Christos Tsiolakis maybe??). I identified with his feelings of separation from his brothers - something I have experienced with my sisters. (we got over it - close as anything now!) I especially connected with his relationship with his younger brother - that feeling you have done something wrong, but you don't know what.
The other thing this book got me thinking about was the traditional Greek grandmother character. I know this stereotype is built on some rather real characteristics of Greek grandmother's. However, Bill's mum and her life is experience is very different from her own mother and I feel she will be a very different (but just as loving) Yiayia to her mother. In real life, is the traditional Greek grandmother (or any traditional grandmother figure) a dying breed? Will the children of my kids generation know this type of grandparent? Does it matter? Most probably not, their grandparents will love them, even without the stereotypical behaviour and beliefs. 
The First Third is again a strong candidate on this short list. As I said in some other review, so glad I am not a judge!