Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
A free spirit who didn't let rules get in his way, high school junior Isaac had three totally different best friends. Now that he's dead, do they have anything in common? Not on the surface: Ryan's a serious swimmer, Miles is described as a nerd and seems to be on the autism spectrum, and Harley is a rebel (and Isaac's drug supplier). As the boys grieve and try to cope with life in their buttoned-down prep school, secrets are revealed and they grow closer. Australian author Kostakis's U.S. debut isn't particularly subtle: the 17-year-olds are portrayed as types-largely, it seems, so that they can then be revealed to be more than that (predictably, the rebel has a soft heart and a secret pain). But Kostakis makes good use of the three characters' narratives, moving from relatable Ryan to sympathetic Harley and finally the initially unprepossessing Miles, whose inability to wear a social mask and habit of seeing his life as a movie make him a touching narrator. Ages 13-up. Agent: Sarah Williams, Sophie Hicks Agency. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-When Australian high school student Isaac dies, three fellow students who each considered him his closest friend battle for individual ways forward. While this is Kostakis's American debut, his literary polish and deep understanding of teen storytelling is compelling and nuanced from the first page. Ryan, Scott, and Miles take turns recounting the months after Isaac's death. Each viewpoint differs, as does each voice; it is through these distinct perspectives and observations that readers find fully dynamic and authentic characters. Ryan, champion swimmer and faculty son, struggles to admit that he's gay. Scott, school boarder and affected rebel, finds comfort in comforting Isaac's bereaved mother and working to correct the news account of Isaac's death. Miles, possibly on autism spectrum, harbors hours of film outtakes from a school project he shot starring Isaac. The surviving guys don't like one another-then they find motivation to step beyond their islands and bond. In addition to the credibility of the living protagonists, the plethora of adults in their stories also ring as vivid and genuine. Scott strikes up a friendship with Isaac's mother, which fills the gap left by the absence of a relationship with his own mom. Miles's parents handle his rigidity with good humor. Rather than a "problem novel," the sum of all these successful parts is a memorable experience with teens who grow to absorb tragedy and build a future on its foundation. VERDICT An excellent exploration of grief from a rising talent that belongs in all libraries serving teens.-Francisca Goldsmith, Library Ronin, Worcester, MA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Everyone feels the loss of popular, charismatic Isaac especially his three closest friends. But although they all had Isaac in common, they are not close with one another, and each proceeds to struggle to cope. Ryan is trying to figure out how to tell his mother that he's gay. Harley just wants to overcome his rough upbringing and live a decent life. And despite his straight A's, Miles strains under the weight of crushing insecurity. Isaac, however, left traces of himself behind traces that are the keys to all three boys' redemption. Kostakis' book is told in three parts that fold in on each other, repeating many of the same scenes from each of the boys' vantage points. This allows readers to gain a deeper understanding of both the characters and Isaac's effect on them and their families. This also makes the beginning of the book a bit challenging, as Ryan's narrative intentionally lays incomplete pieces down for the others to fill in. Still, the effort is worth it for this brave and thought-provoking story.--Suarez, Reinhardt Copyright 2017 Booklist
Horn Book Review
After the sudden death of their friend Isaac, three Australian teens--Ryan, "the swimmer"; Harley, "the rebel"; and Miles, "the nerd"--sort through their complicated relationships with Isaac and with one another. Told in three long sections, from each boy's first-person point of view, the story feels authentically complex and emotionally true. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Three Australian teens deal with the fallout of their friend's death.Ryan, Harley, and Miles don't have much in common. Ryan is the golden-boy jock, Harley is the school rebel, and Miles is the class nerd. The only common ground these three teens have is their mutual best friend, Isaac. After Isaac dies in a freak accident the trio separately come to terms with what Isaac meant to them and come together to honor his memory. The novel is broken into three sections, each narrated by a different grieving friend. A common thread unites their perspectives: repressed sorrow. After a while this oppressive sadness threatens to sink the book. There are few laughs here but heaps of ennui. The characters are understandably distraught, but the one-note emotional tone gets tiresome. The character arcs are well-structured, and the interconnective tissue is smartly conceived, but it all comes back to these three dull protagonists. Ryan is the most compelling of the three; Miles is a typical nerd and Harley the usual ne'er-do-well. Ryan's living a double life that crackles with a little conflict to pair with his angst, but his section is up first, leaving readers to slog through Harley's and Miles' portions before reaching the novel's perfunctory end. Aside from the toss-off bit of Inuit heritage in Harley's background, the cast is a largely white one. A curious premise dashed by thin characters and a one-note tone. (Fiction. 14-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.