It seems the influx of excellent Australian YA is never going to end. Let's just all move there because I am tired of waiting for the books (or begging my Aussie goodread friends to send me presents).
Raw Blue is another excellent, gritty, and heartbreaking book. It's standing barely on the fringes of YA, with a 19-year-old protagonist who's living on her own. I love these borderline YA books. I think there's a lot of stories that can be found in this place between genres and I'm happy when a solid book lands there.
The protagonist in Raw Blue is hard to deal with. She's so damaged and wrapped up in herself that it's hard to get to know her. You quickly learn why she's like that. I worried that this book would take it's time before the big reveal. But this book doesn't play mind games with you. It only withholds as long as necessary. The purpose of this book is not what happened to Carly, but what happened afterwards.
This book follows the story of how Carly deals with her past It isn't always pretty. Sometimes you might want to shout at her or lecture her about making bad choices. Or maybe that's just me. But you will hurt for her. By the end you will be rooting for her.
The surfing is a nice addition to this novel, but don't mistake it for a sunny summery surf story. While it might not look like it on the surface, this is a book about hope and healing. But in order to heal, you must first be broken.
Danny was my favorite character. He's a teenage surfer with synesthesia who befriends Carly when she needs a friend the most. He's the little ray of sunshine in this novel and I just want to take him home and have him tell me how he sees the world because I think synesthesia is potentially coolest thing ever. (Color synesthesia, the type Danny has, is when people automatically associate colors with words or even people. Like the number three could be always be green in their head).
At times I questioned this book, consulted with friends about aspects of the realism, but came away impressed. It's the type of book that makes you feel and makes you think. It handles a tough topic by not focusing on the event, but focusing on the aftermath. Even though the other characters are memorable, this is 100% Carly's story.
And it's a good one.