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.– Goodreads
Sidekick is a delightful novel that reminded me what I love about contemporary YA fiction. Sidekick may be my new favorite Whipple novel. Russ is second best. He knows that he will never be his best friend Garrett and he’s fine with that. This is the life he has in a small down outside of Fresno. But what Russ hasn’t been is honest with himself, his friends, or his family. It’s not that Russ has been living a secret life, because he hasn’t, but he has compartmentalized all of the aspects of his life.
At home, he loves his sister, her “freak” friends, and anime. At work he’s a jock with his best friend, and he could be seen has an ass. There is a part of him that loves to cook, but this is also compartmentalized and not talked about. I understood where Russ is coming from. Could his various worlds mix and get along? Could he ever be seen as first and not second best? Throughout Sidekick Russ learns things not only about his friends, but mostly about himself. Things that he honestly did not see coming and was shocked about. The growth arc throughout Sidekick blew me away because I too was surprised. Russ was surprised maybe there is more to life than being a sidekick and if you’re more than a sidekick to your good friends, isn’t that what matters?
What Whipple did was create a realistic story. I saw myself and my friends throughout this novel. I also saw a huge amount of character growth for not only Russ, but also the secondary characters. Whipple never once wasted time or characters in Sidekick everyone was part of Russ’ story from his parents (Parents! In a YA novel!) to his sister to his BFF Garrett. There is pain, there is humor, but every moment felt real and when I got to that last page I wanted more from Sidekick. I’ll miss these characters.