The joy of brilliant writing and diverse characters – ‘The Sidekicks’

TheSidekicks.jpgThis book absorbed me. I became not one, but three new people as I read it.

That’s powerful.

I didn’t expect to love it this much. Don’t snort in my general virtual direction. I guess because this was written by a bloke, about three blokes adapting to the loss of a fourth bloke. And I’m not a bloke.

So I think my mind just kept gravitating to female-centric books instead.

Thankfully, I purposefully put it on my list at my last library visit after a few twitter giggles at posts by the author. And so should you. ‘The Sidekicks’ by Will Kostakis was a fabulous read, and I’m a bigger person for reading it.

The characters were vivid, the plot was enthralling, the writing was that sort of perfect where you don’t realise you’re reading.

I’m doing a dance now that I have read it, because it’s reminded me of why literature is so powerful. It isn’t just telling a story. With a book, especially in first person, you become the narrator as you read. You see and feel and think like someone else. And when that person is someone completely different to you, this magical thing can happen.

Empathy.

<oh, and a kinda spoiler alert, too>

I’m not a gay teenage boy, too scared to come out. But I know how it could feel now I’ve read this book. Just like I can become a faery princess or a dragon-rider within a book, I can change my race, or my sexuality, or my ability. I can understand how it feels to be someone other than the person I am now.

And understanding breeds empathy and acceptance.

This doesn’t just happen. You can’t simply chuck in an aspect of diversity and expect it to have a positive impact on the reader. You need the skills to weave a balanced and believable character whose impact is subtle but sure. Sledgehammers and stereotypes don’t cut the mustard.

This is the magic of reading. The magic that comes from a combination of brilliant writing and diverse characters.

As I write this, a big hopeful part of me imagines how the world could change for the better if more books like this got into the hands of more and more kids.

Keep reading and writing, awesome people. Oh, and read ‘The Sidekicks’ too!

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