Raw Blue

Raw Blue by Kirsty EagarRaw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
Publisher: Catnip
Number of pages:  288
My copy:  paperback, from Book Depository

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?

* * *

I’ve heard of Raw Blue several times from friends who raved about it, and said it was exceptionally good Aussie fiction. Of course, as with most of these good Aussie fiction, it was kind of hard to acquire a copy, so I was really, really glad when this was picked up by a UK publisher so it was available via Book Depository. I picked up Raw Blue because I was headed for a trip to the beach with my colleagues, where there were chances to surf (which we didn’t really do). Plus I have been craving for some good contemporary YA book from all the serious, adult books I’ve been reading back then.

Carly quit university to spend her days surfing in the morning and working as a cook in a cafe in the evening. She keeps to herself, and to her surfing, because it was the only thing that could help her forget about what happened two years ago in school. Then Carly meets Ryan, who seems to be attracted to her. She finds herself drawn to him, but her past is stopping her. Can she let go of all the pain from what happened to her and move forward, if it means being truly happy?

Carly was kind of hard to get into because she’s so…rough. So angry. So alone. For all the good reasons, too, because of what happened to her. But that’s it, she’s so rough. And in pain. I think in the course of Raw Blue , I felt more sympathy for the people around her who tried to reach out to her – Danny, Hannah and Ryan. They seem like truly good people, and the ones that you would want to have when you’re stuck in darkness and would bring you out only if you let them. I thought Danny was especially endearing, with his synesthesia and how he just assumed he was friends with Carly from the start.

Ryan was just as rough around the edges, and it took me a while to figure out if I liked him or not. I thought Janice‘s description about hm and his relationship with Carly was described perfectly: “…and then there’s Ryan, who looks at Carly and thinks she’s a good thing.” I think that’s what we need sometimes — someone who looks at us and sees us as something good, even if we cannot see it for ourselves.

There were some stellar lines in the book, too. Some of my favorites:

My happiness is crunchy. Snapping, crackling and popping in the sun. (p. 143)

I didn’t pick them, they just turned up in my life, and I’m really glad. I think this and I’m suddenly struck down with gratitude for all the things this place has given me. The break, the ever-changing moods of the ocean and the best surfs I’ve ever had. Tonight my world is a bubble. Clear, round, perfect and fragile. (p. 154)

You just have to see those times for what they have – a chance to look down at your life. And when you do, you see it’s a skin made up of shiny little moments. (p. 288)

I liked Raw Blue. Perhaps not with the same intensity as other readers did, but I liked it. When I finished reading this, I was a bit “meh”, but now that I revisited it to write this review, I realized that I did like it more than I thought I did. :) This is good contemporary YA (or really, not so much YA since the characters are a bit older), and I’m really, really glad this is easier to get now than before. I look forward to reading more of Kirsty Eagar’s books. :)

Rating: [rating=3]

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Janicu’s Book Blog


Six Impossible Things

Six Impossible Things by Fiona WoodSix Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Publisher: Pan MacMillan Australia
Number of pages: 263
My copy: paperback, borrowed from Chachic

Fourteen year old nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a reversal of family fortune, moving house, new school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and an impossible crush on Estelle, the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he’s narrowed it down to just six impossible things…

* * *

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood is a loose retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale with a guy as the main character. Dan Cereill’s life just kind of fell apart. His parents split after his dad came out, they lost their family fortune, he moved to a new-old house and transferred to a new school and his mom opened a wedding cake business that was doomed to fail from the start. And then there’s his neighbor, Estelle, who’s caught his eye and his heart from the moment he saw her, but had absolutely no idea that he exists.

Oh what a cute, cute book this was. Despite the dreary set-up of Dan’s new life, his voice was quite the contrary. Dan was sarcastic yet real, and he dealt with his problems with the best way a fourteen-year-old can. The humorous approach makes the entire situation just hilarious instead of pitiful, and at the back of my mind, I just thought that they would eventually get through this. As for how, that was the thing I was supposed to find out in the story. Since this is kind of a retelling of Cinderella, I liked figuring out what character was equivalent to that character in the fairy tale, even if it took me a while to figure out who was who. But even if you know how Cinderella turns out, the events in this story still took me pleasantly by surprise that, well, I just ended up sighing happily by the last page. :)

The writing in Six Impossible Things was fresh and light and so readable that I never had a hard time connecting with Dan. Dan is awkward and dorky but still so lovable that I wanted to adopt him as my little brother or something. I think his may be the first time I will use it but if there was any character that fits the word “adorkable”, it’s Dan. Even if his crush on Estelle kind of qualified as “insta-love”, at least on his side, it was still quite realistically done. Come on, don’t tell me you’ve never had a “crush at first sight” moment with someone! :P It’s not like Dan had diamond wedding rings for Estelle already. Major plus points on how Dan and Estelle’s relationship was developed — it was about ten parts awkward most of the time, but about a hundred parts cute and “aww” inducing.

The other characters surrounding Dan and Estelle were a hoot too. I loved Dan’s mom, in all her Radiohead singing glory (although I’m not really a fan of the band). I loved their friends and the guy who lived in the house behind Dan’s new house and the bully. But most especially, I loved the presence of Howard the dog. Dogs in stories always wins my heart.

Let me repeat what I first said about this book: Six Impossible Things is a cute, cute book. This is a perfect book to read when you want to relax and laugh and feel the feeling of wanting to hug a book when you get to the end. Because that is really what you’d end up wanting to do when you’re done with this. :)

Rating: [rating=4]

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Book Harbinger
Janicu’s Book Blog
The Crooked Shelf