Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
Publication Date: June 29, 2009
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Audience: Mature young adult
Keywords: Australia, surfing, “gap year”, secrets
Format read: Paperback sent to me in a book exchange with the lovely Mandee from Vegan YA Nerds!
Summary: Carla leaves university to work nights at a restaurant so she can surf every day. She’s kind of a loner, but really precise in the kitchen, and doesn’t always answer her phone when her mom calls. Only the waves can help her forget what happened to her a few years ago… until she can’t forget anymore.
A few confessions:
- I’ve had this book on my bookshelf since February.
- In high school, I watched Blue Crush so many times… I know exactly when each song begins.
- I also desperately wanted to be Kate Bosworth: her hair, her body, waking up to run on the beach. Let’s just ignore the bitchy sister she had for a second.
- I once had a boyfriend that laughed his ass off when he saw that I had Blue Crush in my movie collection. Needless to say, that didn’t last long.
Now that you know all of that classified information, I can say this: Raw Blue is a treasure and why why why has it not been published in the United States yet?
Here’s the thing. I’ve come to the conclusion that Aussie writers consistantly take big emotions, big issues, small details, and every day laughs and expertly bend and twist all of it into their books into consistantly organic (there’s my word) and subtly powerful books.
In Raw Blue, Carla definitely has demons and runs like hell away from them. But Eagar gives us this panoramic view of Carla’s life without making her secrets/reasons for living the centerpiece for everything. I love this character’s connection to the ocean and the terminology and the knowledge of surfing is so impressive…if it was summer and I had a board, I probably could have joined right in. And the supporting characters that keep popping in and out — Danny, who sees people as colors; Hannah, the salsa, man loving neighbor; Ryan, the careful yet diligent surfer — bring such moments of humor and freshness into the prose. I desperately wanted Carla to open herself up to one of these people.
For a story with so many layers, Eagar manages to investigate each of them void of any high level drama. The title says it all: it is completely raw. It is completely real. We feel Carla’s distrust of people, her need to keep order in that restaurant, the sliver of hope when she reaches out to others, and how images of her past manage to repeat themselves at the worst times. She’s flawed and as readers, we have to watch her go for something and pick herself back up … time and time again. (And this doesn’t just pertain to surfing.)
If you can get your hands on a copy of Raw Blue, do it. For the love of literature and all that is wonderful about words. It’s a well-crafted novel that touches upon all the lightest and darkest moments one can experience, and by far, one of the best examples of just how much potential exists in the young adult genre.
One final note… starting a book that has received rave reviews from all around can be really intimidating. Your expectations might be too high, and you could be disappointed. I’m really glad that I waited to read Raw Blue. It’s not really the kind of book you try to gobble up in one seating; it’s more of a slow and steady companion. One that made me realize, while few, just what other titles from this year have satisfied my need for unfiltered, unfluffy bits of life that truthfully showcase the ups and the downs. And I feel mega lucky.