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?
Pre-script: Stay with me folks, this is sort of a review, but I promise there WILL be a contest at the end!
I have a really hard time talking about books that I love. I know that sounds strange because it's the books I love that I really want to promote. Yet, there always seems to be this paradox. I can pinpoint exactly what is wrong with a book when I don't like it, but when I do like it, I always end up just saying things like AMAZING!! READ IT!!! and giving the actual reason of WHY I love it is very hard. I feel like I'm imprecise with my words and can't do the book justice. This is why I've put off reviewing Raw Blue for so long. I've had a hard time finding the right words to describe it. I've loaned this book to numerous people, mentioned it in a dozen places and voted for it on many "best of" lists. But actually writing the review has been impossible. So many others have done it better.
I was first introduced to this book by my good friend, Nomes over at Inkcrush. Her review here captured much of what I wanted to say:
It has this languid, quietly intense pace which you sit back in the pocket, holding your breath. I was only a fifth in when I was startled to discover that Carly had gotten under my skin in a way that a literary character hasn't for a very long time. I was crazily invested in her and felt all ripped up and torn inside-out as the novel progressed. I so wanted her to be okay.
My other good friend, Dana also managed to organize her thoughts in such a way that left me wondering how I could say it any better:
The characters are as vividly drawn as the setting. Carly, the MC, is closed and defensive, which could have been a stumbling block for readers to get to know her. But Eagar manages to do a wonderful job of showing us who Carly is slowly and deftly, from her work in the kitchen where she goes the extra mile despite it being a dead-end job, to her dispassionate noticing of her colleague who is starving herself…we get a picture of Carly loud and clear.If only I could muster up the adjectives and adverbs like they did.
The thing is that I could go on and on about the wonderful prose in this book, the atmosphere, the vivid descriptions of the ocean. The surfing. *sigh* The surfing. Never surfed in my life, but this book makes me want to. Okay, I would drown, but do you see the love here? Yes, all of these things about Raw Blue contribute to what makes it so special, but none of these things is what made me love this book so hard. Rather, it was the character. Carly's character and how I connected to her. To be clear, I have never been in Carly's situation. I have never been that lonely, and I have never had my sense of trust knocked down so violently that I couldn't find it again. But I still felt a real connection to Carly. She just wanted to be normal. Not in the sense that she wanted to be like everyone else, but in the sense that she wanted to just walk up to a person and say hi or flirt with a guy like every other normal girl does. She wanted to not be afraid. As an extreme introvert, I can relate to that. My own experiences are not in the same league as Carly's. I feel foolish even comparing them, but I think maybe because of my personality I was able to easily put myself in her shoes, afraid to trust, afraid of getting hurt. Watching Carly tackle her fears was something I found inspiration from.
The praise for Raw Blue has been tremendous. It won the 2010 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Young Adult fiction and was short listed for the 2010 Gold Inky Award. If these awards don't sound familiar to you, well, that's because they're Australian, mate! Yes, Raw Blue was published several years ago in Australia and has only now become available in the UK. Sadly (sniff sniff), it's still not available in the US. However, since there's a wonderful little online store called The Book Depository, I have decided to give away a copy of Raw Blue!!! It even has a new cover design (though honestly I will always see Carly as a brunette).
To enter the contest just leave a comment with your name and email address so I can get a hold of you. If you've entered my contests before, you'll know that I hate making people jump through hoops, therefore, only one entry per person. BUT if you give me a tweet, I promise to love you forever. Contest is good to wherever The Book Depository ships and will end on July 30th (US).