Sidekick by Natalie Whipple (Review)

by Natalie Whipple
YA Contemporary
Hardcover & ebook, 356 Pages
November 10th 2015

Russ is tired of coming in second to his best friend, Garret. Whether it's in sports, in school, or with girls, he can never get ahead. Something has to change, and when a new girl comes to town he sees his chance. He has to win her over before Garret does, but proving he's not second best won't be easy when Garret is a pro.

Russ will do anything to beat Garret, including using his little sister to get closer to the new girl. He has to be careful, though, because if anyone at school finds out he attends anime night (and he might even enjoy it), it would ruin his reputation, just like his secret love for cooking and James Taylor.

But pretending to be something he isn't will catch up to him eventually, and Russ can only get away with living two lives for so long. As more than one friend reveals they aren't who they seem, Russ must figure out what and who he really wants in his life. And more than that, he needs to find the courage to make it happen.

NATALIE WHIPPLE has always felt like a sidekick, but has never actually been one. At least not to her bestest friends. Which are the ones that matter. She lives in Utah with her husband and kids, and they spend most of their quality time playing video games together and being proud "freaks" in general.

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My Review

SIDEKICK started off different from a lot of YA novels do. It started with a boy being the main character and the story being told from his point of view. It still read like other YA stories until... it didn't. It surprised me in the genuine emotion I felt from the characters. They really grew on me, particularly Russ. By the end I was fighting for him and for his group of friends. It was a great story and one I'd recommend for readers of YA.

Let me just get this out of the way. There was some content that I didn't like, such as swearing, innuendo, sleeping around (referred to, but no details). There was the usual teenage issues and angst and partying. Partying that included the usual drinking and fooling around. Given that the setting is in high school and the main character is a varsity football player and very popular the content, situations in the story, and setting were expected. I almost thought after reading a few chapters that it was going to be "one of those books" again that I would get bored with and would be a waste of time with too much content, but I was proved wrong as it ended up not being that way for me.

Russ carried this story. He was such a good guy and didn't even know he was. He didn't realize the power he had in high school, with his friends, and with others. It made him more likable. He did have some issues and some pretty huge ones that made me want to yell at him a lot few times to tell him to shape up, be honest, and not care about others' opinions, but he really grew on me. I felt like the author wrote his voice and thoughts so well. They felt pretty realistic, including all the guy lingo and how he interacted with his teammates, friends, and others. I also loved the complete contrast some of the characters were to each other. There was definitely no confusion as to who each character was. I also loved that the romance was there, but it was slow building and also felt right to me, not forced or fluffy. It also didn't take over the story.

SIDEKICK was an enjoyable story with a likable and relatable MC. There's romance, heartbreak, family, and the usual high school scene. But this story is really about a guy figuring out who he is, who he wants to be, and foremost, friendship.

Content: Swearing (mild and s-words), innuendo, sleeping around referred to

Source: I received a complimentary copy through a tour host, which did not affect my review in any way.

About the Author

Natalie Whipple grew up in the Bay Area and relocated to Utah for high school, which was quite the culture shock for her anime-loving teen self. But the Rocky Mountains eventually won her over, and she stuck around to earn her degree in English linguistics at BYU, with a minor in editing. Natalie still lives in Utah with her husband and three kids, and keeps the local Asian market in business with all her attempts to cook.

She is the author of the TRANSPARENT series, HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW, the I'M A NINJA series, FISH OUT OF WATER, and MY LITTLE BRONY (under K.M. Hayes). In addition to that, she is on the writing team for the cRPG Torment: Tides of Numenera that should be out sometime in 2015.
You can also find her art here.

Have you read any of Natalie's books? What do you think about this one?

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