Author: Kirsty Eagar
Publication Date: 6/29/09 (no US date yet)
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Blurb (GR):Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly café. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing ... and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago. Then she meets Ryan and Carly has to decide ... Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?
Somehow Kirsty Eagar manages to capture the feeling in your gut you get when you are so struck with nature that you stumble over yourself trying to describe it to someone else but even if you can never describe it, you’re happy to have ever seen it. I’ve got a couple of these places in my back pocket* but Carly Lee sees one every single day when she goes down to the beach. I know next to nothing about surfing (I’m pretty sure watching Blue Crush probably deducts knowledge rather than adding any) but I am still fascinated by the lifestyle and I get the feeling that the only people that will ever truly understand the surfing lifestyle are those living it…which I suppose is true about almost any lifestyle. I don’t really have a desire to go surfing but I still loved the feeling Carly got when she assessed the surf conditions, talked about the reflection off of and colors of the water, and rode a wave. She loves it and I could feel it.
We all know that Melina Marchetta is the queen of the rounded-out character. (I hear from my Goodreads friend Nomes that MM mentioned this was one of her favorite reads of 2009) I was happy with most of the characters in Raw Blue, from Carly’s salsa dance-crazy Dutch woman in a midlife crisis to her surf buddy Danny who has synesthesia. And of course, Carly and Ryan. Carly starts this book in a state of desperate loneliness—one where an act of kindness is sometimes unbearable and where, as she puts it, her basic needs are met but there is nothing to work towards or, I hesitate to say, live for…except surfing. Something awful happened to Carly on her school break in uni and after that, she wasn’t herself anymore. She dropped out and has been living on the northern shore, working as a cook and surfing every day, but she is almost completely isolated. She develops several relationships in the book but the primary one is with Ryan, another surfer she meets at her usual spot. This book doesn’t tiptoe around sex, the realistic development of relationships, or the effect sexual abuse can have on the victim and I was happy to see that. Carly is 19 and Ryan is 26—their relationship feels more adult and this book definitely fills that awkward void of literature that exists between YA and adult. And Ryan? Swoon.
I think something I truly enjoyed about this one was that it honestly felt Australian. The language, the personalities, the descriptions, just everything. I want this book published in the US but I want NONE of it changed or adapted. I had to look up with bitumen is and so can you. To change anything would rip the Aussie heart out of this book.
A statement of the obvious, I know, but every reader is different. We all creep around on Goodreads trying to find our book twin—someone with 100% compatibility, someone who likes everything that you like and hates all the same things. (seriously, twin, if you are reading this—I’m looking for you!) Recommending books to people is hard. Anyway, my point is this: This book made me feel like I was reading a Melina Marchetta book. Sometimes the descriptions were painfully beautiful, the characters were delightfully flawed, and the dialogue was almost always spot-on. If you are still reading this, you probably already know we have similar tastes so I recommend this to YOU. I’ll take the blame if you hate it but I really don’t think you will. I hope you can get your hands on a copy!
I am beyond grateful that the lovely Nic (at Irresistible Reads) shared this book and I will definitely be acquiring a copy soon. Hopefully Penguin USA will get with the program and publish this here. (If you click on the cover photo, as always, it will take you to a place you can purchase a copy)