This Aussie YA follows three boys at a Sydney private school who have nothing in common except their dead best friend, Issac Roberston.
The boys in this book are labeled as the swimmer, the rebel and the nerd and they each share their unique perspective on the aftermath of Issac’s death. Of the three boys, Harley, the “rebel”, feels partially responsible for the death (and who is just asking to be compared to Holden Caulfield) and Miles, the loner “nerd”, have the most compelling stories because of how Issac’s death changes the way they navigate the world.
This is a full cast audiobook with each boy getting his own narrator, it took me awhile to get used to the Australian accents and I was rewinding a lot because I couldn’t always catch what they were saying. Funny story, the only narrator I didn’t have issues understanding was P.J. Ochlan who sounded authentically Australian to me, but it turns out he’s an American actor who specializes in accents. He has also done a boatload of audiobooks.
In YA parents have a tendency to disappear, and I liked that Kostakis wrote nuanced adult characters in each boy’s life. Although I had a real problem with Ryan, the champion swimmer’s, mom. She’s the head of the English department at their private school and she needed to seriously set boundaries between herself and her son at school. She just lets him hang out in her office in the teacher’s area by himself and he just kind of watches the teachers interacting. It just seems to me the teachers should have spaces separate from students where they can “be themselves” , but like who’s going to say anything if it’s the boss’ kid. *jumps off soapbox*
One of my oddly specific genre catnips is white dude ennui in YA. I think it’s because it’s so far from my own lived experience and this book hit a lot of my buttons for that. It was like a reverse Goodbye Days with a dash of Catcher in the Rye.
I really like all the cover interpretations for this book. The one at the top of this post is the audiobook cover but I think my favorite is the Australian. hardcover.
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.