Sunday 6 August 2023

We Could Be Something

We Could Be Something by Will Kostakis (Allen and Unwin), RRP $19.99 YA ISBN 9-781761-180170

Reviewed by Susan Hancy

We Could Be Something follows the lives of two 18-year-old gay boys of Greek descent, Harvey and Sotiris, whose dreams, fears and failings converge on the same street in inner city Sydney. Their respective stories are told, alternating, from the point of view of each boy. Harvey knows he is gay – he’s got two dads and acceptance is inherent. Sotiris is discovering himself and when he comes out to his strongly opinionated Greek mother, her initial reaction and subsequent supportive actions drew my tears.


There are many parallels between the boys – their close relationships and obligations to their Greek parent, yiayia (grandmother) and, in the case of Harvey, his proyiayia (great grandmother), each family works hard running a Greek cafĂ© and each family has someone with a burning ambition to be a published author. Sotiris’s story is centred around his remarkable first published book at the age of seventeen, it’s fizzle, the impact of a typo, his blossoming relationship with bookstore owner Jem and his frustration at his inability to produce his next great work.  Harvey’s story is centred around the marriage breakdown of his fathers, his initial desire to escape family, the onset of dementia for his great grandmother and his realisation of the power of love for family. Readers will feel for the main characters in each of their extended families, and most-likely be angered by the selfishness of the antagonist in each story. 


The blurb of this book sums it up perfectly: it’s a “part coming-out story, part falling-in-love story, part falling-apart story”. The blurb also tells us that the lives of Harvey and Sotiris will converge and I was waiting to see when and how in the story this would happen. Clues had been dropped along the way, but then the answer smacked me as though I’d been whacked across the face with Sotiris’s unfinished manuscript that he discards in the backyard wheelie bin. It left me overwhelmed by the revelation and marvelling at the subtlety of the writing which had held me back from being able to join the dots too quickly, thereby extending my reading pleasure. This book is going to be a hit and I recommend it as appropriate for 16+ readers due to some of the explicit content. 

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