Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
4.5 to 5 stars.
Another great writer delivered to us from Down Under. And NOW I understand why even at McDonald's they are so adamant on putting on the wrappings "100% Australian beef", it must be something they're putting in the food there. Aside from having the most poisonous snakes and the most dangerous animals, it wouldn't be wrong to say they also have the best YA writers at the moment. Kirsty Eagar is, without a doubt, one of such writers.
Carly is 19 and she is running away from her life. She has dropped out of Uni, reneged her family and is trying to forget a painful event in her past. Her only love is surfing and so she's relocated on the Central Coast, got a job as a cook in a café and works the night shift to surf during the day. Carly is surrounded by some truly amazing characters: Hannah the Dutch neighbor, a kid who surfs with her with synesthesia and Ryan, a guy she is interested in but who also she seems unable to let into her life. There isn't really much to say about the plot because this is one of those books, just like Melina Marchetta's books, which are founded on characters, rather than on the plot. And if you liked Marchetta, you won't be disappointed by Raw Blue.
To be honest, I didn't love this book from the beginning. My main problem, but this is probably mainly MY problem, was the surfing-related jargon. I come from a country where surfing is not really the national beach sport seeing how we have a puddle rather than an ocean here and I know NOTHING about it. Add to that the fact that I am a non native English speaker and it's easy to understand how I was really struggling with the surfing descriptions and slang. Like, REALLY struggling. I know a wave is called a wave, I know nothing about its "body parts". It made me think of that exam in sociolinguistic I took in my first year at Uni where I read that the Inuit have something like 18 different ways of describing snow. To me snow is snow. It's powdery or wet at the most. Same thing with waves. So yeah, I felt a bit on the ignorant side there and slightly bored. I definitely understood that surfing is not as easy as it looks, though.
But what I most loved about this book, aside from the amazing characters, is that it sounds so truly Australian. I complained in my review of Mercy by Rebecca Lim that I couldn't find Australia in that book, that it could have been written by an American author. Well, that doesn't happen here. This book is 100% Australian (beef). You find Australia in the scenery's descriptions, in the language (a bit too many bitumens there by the way) in the character's dialogues (I guess if husbands and wives in Aussie land call each other mate?)... everywhere. And that's what I wanted to read actually. Australian author? Australia has to be in it.
So even though I got a rather bumpy start, by half book I was in love with it. Eagar excels, like Marchetta, at describing emotions and this book is so, so realistic and honest it completely blew my mind. I'm taking away half a star only because I felt the ending was a bit rushed for my taste, I would have wanted the situation with Ryan resolved more extensively and also with Shane but I have to say that this book deserves five stars only for its writing. I hope they publish it internationally very soon because it completely deserves it - much more than other Ya authors out there nowadays.
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