In Memoirs of a Sidekick, David Skuy – best known for the young-adult sports titles Rocket Blues, Striker, and the Game Time series – changes tack to examine the dynamics of a middle-school presidential campaign from the point of view of Adrian Nickels, loyal sidekick to unpopular candidate Boris Snodbuckle.
Boris, who would much rather be called “the B-Ster” than “Buckle Butt,” knows he must challenge popular kid Robert Pinsent for presidency if he doesn’t want the school to be run by a lying, cheating bully. So he and Adrian launch Operation S.O.S. – Save Our School – and attempt to win over Bendale Middle School’s students. Every plan they enact leads to gains for the student body, but Robert takes the credit and bolsters support for his own campaign. Robert’s acts of sabotage lead to repeated suspensions for Boris and Adrian, whose strict code of behaviour prohibits them from ratting out their antagonist. Through it all, Adrian stands by Boris, believing that if his buddy can’t solve a problem, the problem can’t be solved.
Skuy’s quick-paced, dialogue-heavy writing will hold reluctant readers’ attention, as will the novel’s structure. The book is divided into parts, each describing an “operation” meant to help Boris win votes. For example, Operation Rally in the Valley aims to stop development in a local valley and sway the vote of the “nature lover kids,” while Operation Broadway aims to win the votes of the “artsy kids” by showing them Boris’s musical prowess. What is harder to follow is why Adrian, a very intelligent seventh grader, doesn’t seek more agency for himself until close to the end of the book. Nevertheless, this story of two highly principled underdogs will leave readers hopeful that the most authentic candidate will always come out on top