A review by Nalini Haynes
High school is tough. Ryan, Harley and Miles were all Isaac’s sidekicks… but they weren’t friends with each other. They orbited around Isaac like estranged planets in a solar system. But now Isaac is dead and they’re dealing with the aftermath.
Ryan is gay and Isaac was the only person, other than his boyfriend, who knew. Now Ryan’s boyfriend is pressuring him to come out because he’s sick of keeping their relationship a secret.
Harley feels responsible for Isaac’s death even though he wasn’t there. Or maybe because he wasn’t there. Harley brought the drugs to the party.
Miles was in business with Isaac, shady business. He’s lost his business partner. Being the school nerd, he has books for company and hangs out in the library. Alone.
Women are mothers, teachers and girlfriends to these three teenagers who attend an all-boys school. Although Sidekicks doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test I think it gets a “get out of test free” card. The women are smart, have agency and, most importantly, it is relationships with the women (especially Ryan’s mom who’s also Head of English and Isaac’s mom who is grieving) that help the boys.
Sidekicks is real-world young adult fiction with loads of pop culture references, complete with eye-rolls for the noobs who don’t get the references. Sidekicks is about growing up, coming out, the nature of grief and living after loss. Written as three short stories from each of the three sidekicks’ points of view, the overall story feels short. It’s well-paced with interesting voices. I highly recommend Sidekicks to readers of all genders and ages as a funny and heart-felt coming-of-age story.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Format: paperback, 272 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Penguin Random House because they didn’t call it Random Penguins)