Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar is very much a quiet, character driven novel – and kind of puts me on the bring of joining an Aussie YA fan club. Main character Carly is 19, but doesn’t go to college. Instead, she has her own apartment in Sydney. She works nights as a cook so that her days are free to surf. As idyllic as Carly’s life may seem, she’s carrying a lot of pain inside.
“I have two friends here: a fifteen year old who sees people in colours and a salsa-mad Dutch woman. 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”
Raw Blue is a fitting title in that as readers, we see Carly’s emotions as raw – she is laid bare and nothing is held back from us. Carly is never cardboard or stock. She’s not portrayed as the ‘typical’ rape victim. Instead, we get a character who is prickly with this huge guard up and I know I was happy every time Carly let someone in — whether it’s her neighbor Hannah who is Dutch and loves Salsa dancing, Danny the boy who sees things as colors, or Ryan the older surfer guy who has the hots for her. I just fell for the cast of characters.
“Surfing’s the only sex I get. Board fins come in small, medium and large. They’re stiff and give you rides that are smooth and fast. Wax sounds like pornography: Sex Wax. Quick Humps, Mrs. Palmer’s, The Five Daughters. Surfer chicks like a stick between their legs. Gettin a few? Getting any?”
I liked that Kirsty Eagar’s prose isn’t overt and all ‘look at me, look at me being fancy.’ No, it’s clear and concise and gets the emotion across. I never had to reread bits of Raw Blue to decode what exactly is going on – instead I would reread because I liked the way Eagar would describe things like the ocean waves or Danny’s views of different people.
“Longing’s unbearable, something that can’t be endured but has to be. It’s the worst of all; I didn’t know that. It’s sweet and it kills at the same time, an ache eating away at your heart so that air gets in and you don’t know if what you feel is pain or pleasure.”
While writing style is important, I know many of us YA fans come for the swoons. Yo, Kirsty Eagar takes Raw Blue to swoon level midnight. There’s such physical chemistry between Ryan and Carly you can feel it coming off the page. And yo, the sexy times are LEGIT. I’m sure that if Raw Blue ever gets published in the US, it will be in the adult or new adult section (there is lady head — which is why I think this).
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar is a highly recommended, nuanced look at recover and the PTSD sexual assault can have on a victim – yet Carly is more than a ‘victim’. Raw Blue is available through the Kobo store and I think through this other store called Big Pond. Raw Blue is DEFINITELY worth reading and slams into you the same way that Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson does. Cross your fingers like me and hope that Raw Blue gets published in America.
“If you’ve been raped, you become a Rape Victim. When people talk to you, they’ll have a picture of you in their mind – you lying on the ground, men moving over you. But they won’t be empathetic; they won’t put themselves on the ground. They taste power, that little hint of vinegar that puts a twist in their lips and saliva in their mouths.”
Disclosure: Borrowed from Linds at Bibliophile Brouhaha