Publisher: Penguin Australia
Release Date: July 24th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Family, Young Adult
Life is made up of three parts: in the first third, you're embarrassed by your family; in the second, you make a family of your own; and in the end, you just embarrass the family you've made.
That's how Billy's grandmother explains it, anyway. She's given him her bucket list (cue embarrassment), and now, it's his job to glue their family back together.
No pressure or anything.
Fixing his family's not going to be easy and Billy's not ready for change. But as he soon discovers, the first third has to end some time. And then what?
It's a Greek tragedy waiting to happen.
One of the things I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time is read more Australian fiction. Not just books written by Aussies, but books set in the country I’ve grown up in. THE FIRST THIRD is the first book with an Aussie setting I’ve read in a very long time. It’s set in Sydney with a brief stop in Melbourne, two cities I’ve only briefly spent time in, but it was familiar none the less. The sayings and character’s personalities and stuff all felt so familiar.
THE FIRST THIRD also introduced me to a wide cast of characters I’d never read about before. Bill is Greek and my gosh that culture is… quite the opposite to what I’m used to. Loud and big and emotional. Bill’s best friend is a hilarious guy with cerebral palsy, a condition I’ve only heard about but never met anyone with in real life. His mother is single, his family not good at communicating. So many other characters and situations he experienced were new to me. And I don’t think I will ever have the opportunity to go through anything like he does, so I’m grateful for the experience.
The main theme of THE FIRST THIRD is family. Trying to appreciate what you have when you have it, and keeping it all together no matter how much you go to. Being the eldest of three girls, I can understand a lot of Bill’s feelings and frustrations when it came to his brothers. This story made me glad that I have a fairly good relationship with my siblings, but also made me realise I don’t do nearly as much as I probably could. Though his Yiayia does sound very entertaining in a way that my grandparents are not.
In fact, his Yiayia is the whole reason Bill’s story exists. She’s a match maker and a meddler and sounds like she would have been fun to grow up with. When she first sets Bill up on his sort of quest the goals she outlined seem hilarious and not very achievable. But the whole thing becomes solemn when you realise just how much Bill’s entire family needs this. Grandmother’s always know best after all (in most things anyway).
Along with the new experiences, the writing style also made this really enjoyable. It’s quick and funny. Written in an engaging first person POV you really keep turning the pages. I think the main reason the story isn’t getting a higher rating from me is that I wish it was longer! Everything is over so quickly, especially since it’s quite addicting to read. I would have loved more time to be spent on the development of the characters and for more events to happen over the course of the novel.
THE FIRST THIRD was a very Australian novel. Everything centred around family, which made me realise how lucky I am to have the family I have. While not always the happiest novel, it was very entertaining and Bill’s narration was perfect. There were so many times I wanted to laugh, but also many eye opening moments as I was introduced to characters and culture that I doubt I’d ever experience in real life.