Friday 27 September 2013
#CBR5 Book 120. "Raw Blue" by Kirsty Eagar
Rating: 3.5 stars
Carly works the evening shift as a cook at a small cafe, so she can spend her days surfing. She's estranged from her family, and dropped out of university, and keeps herself mostly to herself. The thing she can't tell her family is that surfing is the only thing that makes sense to her anymore, and that helps her not to dwell on the incident after her high school graduation two years ago, when she got drunk, separated from her friends, and woke up in a strange apartment having been raped by three strangers. Carly doesn't want to be a victim, and telling people about rape, always makes them pity and see you in a different light - so she doesn't talk about it, and she allows no one to get close.
While Carly may want to stay isolated, there are people around her who want to get closer. Hannah, a Dutch woman estranged from her husband,lives upstairs from her (but has to keep using her shower because her plumbing is bad) and tries to take Carly salsa dancing and makes her breakfast. Danny, a persistent kid she meets while surfing has synesthesia and won't leave her alone, even when the colour he sees her as is occasionally unpleasant. He keeps wanting to hang out and discuss surfing movies, and persuades Carly to get him a part time job at the cafe. Lastly, there is Ryan, who stands out from some of the crowd of macho surfer dudes. He doesn't hide the fact that he's just out of jail, and that he'd like a chance to get to know Carly better. He wants to turn his life around into something better, and if Carly will let him, he wants her to be a part of that life. The question is if Carly is ready to let him in?
My friend Erica read this some time ago and rated it very highly indeed. She gave me a copy, but it's been lingering on my TBR shelf until blue was one of the monthly keywords for this month. Must admit, I didn't love it as much as she, or quite a few book reviewers out there on the internet did, possibly because I had such a hard time engaging properly with the book. I felt really bad for Carly, and really hoped that she'd get over her assault, but I didn't really like her all that much, and her very narrow goals in life (work in cafe, surf) were not something that resonated with me. While I felt bad about it, I occasionally found myself thinking that maybe Hannah, Danny and Ryan should just let her sulk in peace, she was clearly not going to reciprocate the kindnesses and patience they kept showing her. I also have absolutely no idea if the surfing terms used in the books are accurate, but am going to assume so, as it's such a central part of the narrative.
I've seen the book classified as young adult and new adult. As Carly is nineteen and Ryan is twenty-six, and there is some description of sex (while nothing particularly graphic or explicit), I think it would fit better in the new adult category. I'm not particularly bothered by such labels, myself, but figured it might be worth noting that the romance in this book is not of the "fade to black" variety, even though it's aimed at younger readers.