This is the story of a good Greek boy with a gay disabled feminist best friend called Sticks, (sounds like a parody? It isn't), a crush on Hayley "it's complicated" Walker-Pryce, and an embryonic career in standup comedy.
Billy's hospitalised Yiayia gives him a bucket list: to "fix" his distant gym-obsessed younger brother, to find a girlfriend for his (gay) older brother, and to find his mother a husband. This may sound like the setup for a cliche-ridden romcom, but the result sidesteps genre banality in all sorts of delicious ways.
Weaving realistic, relevant use of Twitter and other social media into the text, the book delves into Greek-Australian stereotypes and realities, the world of internet dating, and the brittleness of first impressions. But at the core of the book is a funny, tender, winning story of a seventeen-year-old boy who loves his Yiayia; that, in modern teen literature, is rare enough.
Quotes beneath spoiler tags; but they're not particularly spoilery.
"He shrugged. ‘I don't really know him either,' he said. ‘There's this app for my phone. All the guys that are near you pop up and you can chat to them. The expectation is that you're on it to do stuff.'
Sticks had hooked up with guys at parties, but they never did anything serious. I'd expected that the I-had-sex conversation would come after the there's-this-guy-I-like confession and the this-is-so-and-so introduction. He'd always said he wanted it to mean something. But instead he'd downloaded an app, where there was an expectation . . . "
"‘You know you don't have to do that, right?'
‘Says the able-bodied hetero kid,' Sticks said. ‘If you think you have to jump through hoops to find someone – then my hoops are spinning. And they're on fire.'
Sticks was like baking paper, nothing ever stuck to him. But in an instant, he'd become fragile."