Title: Raw Blue
Author: Kirsty Eagar
Publisher: June 29th 2009 by Penguin Books Australia
Format: Paperback, 274 pages
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 at schoolies week. And then Carly meets Ryan, a local at the break, fresh out of jail. When Ryan learns the truth, 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?
Something bad happened to Carly a few years ago, and she never dealt with it. Instead, she dropped out of school, moved away from home and spends her days surfing and her nights working in the kitchen of a fancy coffee shop/café. She’s happy being alone and pushes everyone away. She’s kind of friendly with her landlady, and tolerates the people at work, but that’s it. Then, out of nowhere, an unusual teen breaks through her barriers. He doesn’t treat her differently, which she likes. He has synaesthesia, and is right up front about everything, which she finds unexpectedly endearing.
I laugh. “Have people been staring at you?”
He frowns. “I don’t know. I guess so. I forgot it was there. Can you really notice it?”
“Well yeah, but I think its great.” To me, Danny rocking up to surf with graffiti all over his face is precious, the fact he talks to me is a gift. But of course, you can’t say things like that to people.
But that’s just the start. Soon, the people at work start wanting to get friendlier with Carly, and one of the surfers at her usual spot takes a liking to her. Suddenly, she is faced with letting people into her life, and what that means to her.
The characters were okay, though they were sort of secondary to Carly. This is not a multi-character book, it’s definitely Carly’s story. Though there are other people in her life, she spends most of her days alone, so we never had a chance to really get to know the other people. The same idea applies to the dialogue; there’s not much of it. Even when she is with other people, Carly spends a lot of time talking to herself. I liked the overall dialogue, though. There are lots of “Aussie-isms” that I am unfamiliar with, but they are pretty easy to get from the context.
Though there is some sex, it isn’t something I would call super sexy. It is graphic and just matter-of-fact. There is a description of rape, but it isn’t very graphic. There are some tender moments between Carly and Ryan, especially as they form their relationship.
Some phone calls he doesn’t say much and I know he’s called just to hear my voice. That’s all he wants, to hear me tell him about my day, what the surf’s like, what work’s like. And that’s humbling, knowing that your voice can mean so much to another person.
Kirsty Eagar’s writing is wonderful, so descriptive. In a book basically about water, she comes up with so many different ways to describe surfing, the ocean, waves and the beach, that I never got tired of reading about it. It could have easily become repetitive, but she does a great job of avoiding that.
The cover is great, it totally captures the tone of the book. She is alone in the water, with a surfer in the background, and has grown her hair long to hide from her past. Spot on.
A beautiful, lyrical story about letting people in, and letting them help you recover from a past you can’t forget.
Kirsty Eagar’s childhood was split between the bush and the beach. After completing a masters degree in economics, she worked on trading desks in Sydney and London before changing careers, wanting a life where she could surf every day. She travelled around Australia for a couple of years, living out of a car, worked a variety of jobs and began writing fiction. Her debut novel, Raw Blue, won the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult fiction. Her second novel, Saltwater Vampires, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Her third novel, Night Beach, was published by Penguin in May 2012, and has been shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards, the Western Australia Premier’s Awards and a Gold Inky.
Kirsty lives with her husband and two daughters on Sydney’s northern beaches.