Friday, March 25, 2011
Review: Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
19-year-old Carly spends her days surfing on Australia’s northern beaches and her nights working as a cook. For her, surfing is everything—everything else must revolve around it. This lifestyle is the only way she can temporarily forget the horrible thing that happened to her almost two years ago, the thing that still gives her nightmares occasionally and makes it difficult for her to trust anyone.
However, Carly’s life keeps on crashing against others’, despite her best efforts to remain alone. She befriends a variety of interesting characters, such as her Dutch neighbor, a fun-loving, separated older woman named Hannah, and Danny, a younger fellow surfer with synaesthesia. And when Carly gets to know Ryan, a local surfer, she finds it hard to hold onto her former feelings of determined detachment. But will allowing someone to get close to her only end up hurting her again? Must she live with the permanent psychological effects of her past, or can she find a way to not let her past dictate her future?
I’ve heard of and wanted to read RAW BLUE, an Australian debut novel, for two years before I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a copy, thanks to the amazing generosity of a blogger friend who is a staunch RAW BLUE evangelist. The verdict? Oh boy, was it worth the years of quiet and patient waiting. I wish more people know about this powerful, heartbreaking, and full novel.
RAW BLUE is not an easy read. Carly is an emotionally damaged young woman who pushes people away as much as possible. Eagar does not shy from using the language of a hardcore Australian surfer. And the plot is quiet, with over half the book passing by the time I realized that what I had read was not merely exposition, but the meat of the story. Despite what it sounds, however, it is far from being a slow and frustrating book.
A rape survivor, Carly tries to drown her memories away with the routine of cooking and surfing. It was heartwarming to read about Carly’s slow and painful healing, because it’s such an internal process that we can all relate to it at some level. RAW BLUE is, above all, subtle. It does not use any drastic events or scenarios to move the plot along. It is really just Carly going about her daily routine, not realizing that she is changing even as she is. And that’s arguably the best kind of realistic fiction, because it’s most like the almost unnoticeable process of growth that we undergo in real life.
When Eagar’s talent for stunning prose meets a protagonist whom we love despite her best attempts to dissuade us, the result is a beautiful and lingering story that reinfuses life into us. I finished RAW BLUE with an optimistic sense of the immensity of the world, of all the little things that we don’t stop to think about that can impact our lives forever.
Melina Marchetta (Jellicoe Road)
Cath Crowley (A Little Wanting Song)
Elisa Carbone (Jump)
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: It's a pretty typical contemporary YA fiction cover, but something about it really draws me. The starkness of the blue and white probably has something to do with it. I like this even more after reading the book. It's like the cover evokes the book-proven idea that Carly's story does not fit into the typical contemporary fiction narrative.
Penguin Books Australia / Jan. 29, 2009 / Paperback / 274pp.
Received as part of blog tour organized by Linds of Bibliophile Brouhaha. Thank you SO much!