Carly dropped out of university to spend her days surfing. At night, she works as a cook in a cafe. Surfing is the only thing she loves to do, and it’s the only thing that pulls her out of bed when she starts to think about what happened two years before at school. When she meets Ryan, another local surfer, she can’t help but be drawn to him. Carly has to make a decision: will she open up enough to allow someone–anyone in? Or will she continue to shut the world out?
This is a dark story. Kirsty Eagar’s first novel is a story of regeneration and rebirth, but it is not an easy journey. Eagar writes with a nuanced skill that captures the reader’s attention and tugs at their heartstrings. This is a beautiful story, full authentic emotions and characters.
It starts with Carly, who has a strong voice and is remarkably well-developed. She is painfully real, as are all of the characters in the novel. Everyone she meets is fully realized, awkward, endearing. These feel like people who exist in the world. They linger with the reader long after the story is finished.
As does the story itself. Eagar’s story is full of heightened emotion and tension, but it never feels melodramatic or unnecessary. Carly has experienced something horrific, and instead of dealing with it, she has suppressed it. It bubbles just beneath the surface, and although Eagar is careful with her pace, readers will be able to anticipate a tipping point long before it happens.
A powerful novel, this will have crossover appeal and could be recommended to adults as well as older teens. Carly and the characters that inhabit her world get under your skin. Beautiful, intensely moving, and full of hope, this is a story that everyone should be reading. Highly, highly recommended. One of my favorite reads of the year so far.
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar. Penguin Books: 2009. Borrowed copy.