Sunday, August 28, 2011

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

Raw Blue
By Kirsty Eagar
Penguin Books
Available Now
from Australian

274 pages
Price varies

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. Then she meets Ryan and 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?

Here I sit having just finished a borrowed copy of Raw Blue and I'm astounded by the phrasing and poetry of words that this author can write.  We all speak English, at least the books I read, and yet the way Kirsty Eagar puts words together is like hearing them for the first time or painting a picture with new colors you've never seen before.  It amazes me to find an author like that.  And Kirsty Eagar is one of those authors.  But it isn't just about the way she has with words.  It's the story and the characters and the surfing and the ocean.  It's the whole damn book.  It's everything.  I can't pick one thing out of it that I like the best.  

Carly is broken.  But functioning and that's the best she can say for herself.  She gets up, surfs until she's tired.  Then gets ready for work and works the evening shift in a cafe in the kitchen preparing things meticulously and avoiding her coworkers and conversation.  She works only as much as she needs to cover the bills and rent.  She's quit school, "uni" and been quit by her family. "If I was just angry, it'd be easy, but it hurts too, it hurts so bad, because I love my mum and I'm scared being out of my family.  But when I'm in it, I feel like I'm being pressed into the wrong shape.  Things with Dad will never be the way I want them because I'm not what he wants.  I'm trying to accept this but it's funny how you forget all the time." (p. 20)  This early on, we find out how alone Carly is and how remote she's kept herself from everyone around her even now.  She's got an upstairs neighbor that she speaks to, but no one really knows her or that something terrible happened to her.  

Another passage that was so profound to me was "This is why people kill themselves, they can't get away from the things they carry in their heads.  Shame isn't a quiet grey cloud, Shame is a drowning man who claws his way on top of you, scratching and tearing your skin, pushing you under the surface." (p. 37)  From these two passages a bleak image of Carly's life outlook is painted even though you'd think, surfing on the ocean, the rush of the water, the sun and the adrenaline would give her a sunnier outlook.  But obviously her shame overshadows everything.  Stories in the news remind her of what's happened to her.  Her every waking moment is filled with the fear that she'll hear their voices, the voices of the ones that did this terrible thing to her.

Her coworkers are all disgusting to me with the exception of her boss, Emilio.  Marty is a pig, going after any and every girl, the two women are chain smoking gossips, Adam with open sores on his hands sticking his fingers in all the food, Roger the alcoholic.  The only worthwhile one is the little boy she meets while surfing who she takes on as a semi apprentice to work with her, Danny.  She  surfs with him and chats with him on the water.  Totally big sis, little bro stuff.  But he's also like an emotional barometer for her because he can see the colors of things and people and her color changes based on her mood.

Mostly what I see in Raw Blue is Carly, trying to exist outside of what happened to her.  But she knows what's happened to her and that it's affected her, but she seems to be trying to live around it or over it, not dealing with it, not accepting it, not admitting it.  Not only does it cause her isolation, but mistrust of every male, and people in general.  She finds out Marty is homeless and thinks, "I'm waiting for him to ask if he can crash at my place.  Even though I don't want him to, I'll say yes, because it seems to me that people always want something from you and I can't work out how to hold the door shut against that any more."(p.86)  Her boundaries have been crossed and with the borders down, she doesn't know how to put them back up.  She doesn't know how to enforce the boundaries she once had, so she's afraid to come out of the cave like existence she's been living in.  

I think Kirsty Eagar steps into the shoes of Carly, a girl raped and unable to deal with it and leads us through her journey of dealing with it.  I think that many rape victims would benefit from reading this novel, but I know many more people who enjoy good fiction will enjoy reading this powerful story.  I didn't plan to read it in one sitting, I had other things to do, but I couldn't put it down once I started reading.  And there were so many quotable moments.  There were times to smile and times you wanted to pull your hair out and times you just wanted to cry for Carly or with her.  It's a realistic look at the effects of rape on a young woman and the aftershocks that follow it.  I highly recommend it for older YA readers. 

Don't forget to participate in all the giveaways and to read the reviews and interviews and other fun stuff going on during Kirsty Eagar Week.  You can go to Irresistible Reads  or to Bibliophile Brouhaha and find out all the details.  And don't forget, that you can win one of several copies of Raw Blue and Kirsty Eagar's other novel Saltwater Vampires.  Below is a list of the other events of the week:

Monday, Aug. 29
Nic at Irresistible Reads will be doing the main introductory post, announce the schedule for the week and announce her giveaway.
Linds at Bibliophile Brouhaha will post my "Case for Carly" page as a post + signed Raw Blue giveaway.
Review from Heather (Buried in Books) for Raw Blue 

Tuesday, Aug 30Missie's review of Saltwater Vampires + giveaway (signed) at The Unread Reader
Nic at Irresistible Reads w/Kirsty Eagar guest post
Linds' at Bibliophile Brouhaha review of Saltwater Vampires + Saltwater Vampires giveaway (unsigned - random extra personal copy I found while cleaning - BONUS:)
Review of Raw Blue from Ashley at Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing

Wednesday, Aug. 31Review from Tara at Fiction Folio for Raw Blue at Fiction Folio

Nomes -  collection of thoughts on Raw Blue + signed copy of Raw Blue giveaway at Inkcrush
Melissa with i swim for oceans with Kirsty post with the beaches + signed Raw Blue giveaway
Nic may also do a post on Rhino (just remember he's mine, though, okay?) Irresistible Reads

Thursday, Sept. 1
Review from Saltwater Vampires from Nic at Irresistible Reads
Steph Su with older YA post at Steph Su Reads
Jenny - with cover post and a giveaway for Saltwater Vampires (signed) at Supernatural Snark

Friday, Sept. 2
Guest review on Nic's blog of Raw Blue Irresistible Reads
Other YA Aussie posts from Nomes at Inkcrush
Kirsty guest post with with Linds at Bibliophile Brouhaha

Have fun and hope you win something and enjoy the posts!!



  1. Great review! I've really been wanting to read this one! I hope I win a copy this week. From the quotes you included, the writing seems to really put the reader in touch with the MC emotionally. I love a book where I can connect with the main character like that, it really adds to the enjoyment. Can't wait to read it myself.

  2. Awesome review! I agree that Raw Blue is one of those books you can't stop reading once you start. Completely captivating. Thank you so much for participating.

  3. Yes, thank you, Heather! This review is wonderful! I really love what you had to say here: "Her boundaries have been crossed and with the borders down, she doesn't know how to put them back up. She doesn't know how to enforce the boundaries she once had, so she's afraid to come out of the cave like existence she's been living in." Completely true - her sense of safety is so shattered. . . how do you figure out to set boundaries when it becomes evident that they can be crossed?

    Love this review - I echo Nic - thank so much for participating!


  4. "Painting words with new colors"

    YES! Perfect way to put it, Heather. I loved the writing too, and the story was a good kind of achy.

  5. So glad you loved this one as much as I did Heather! I agree, there was just something beautiful about Kirsty's writing and Carly's story and it just drew me in in a way that's rare. I hope everyone picks this book up, it deserves to get some buzz!

  6. Came here by way of Linds at BB. She was NOT kidding when she said you had written an excellent review! I want my hands on this book yesterday! Fantastic review!

  7. Thanks for the comments everyone! Running to school to get limpy (still in cast) and post office to mail Linds copy of Raw Blue back to her. Will comment fully when I get back!


  8. Fantastic review, Heather - you truly have a way with words. This book was so so so phenomenal. Any book that can make me love a genre I used to avoid like the plague is a success by me ;)

  9. Happy Booker (or Bookseller if you're a certain novelist LOL) Anyway, yes, this is a must read even if you don't like contemp fiction. It's just so beautifully written. I think at least all women should read it and boys would certainly benefit seeing how their actions can so profoundly effect a girl/woman's life. Hope you win!

    Nic- Have to thank Linds for loaning it to me at the right time!

    Bib- Thanks so much for letting me read it! Maybe we can picket on the front steps of Penguin or something because Kirsty's books definitely would have a following here. I know other Australian others who's books are published by Penguin here so I don't get it! I'm so glad you like my review. I know about not having boundaries. This book spoke to me and it's easy to write a review when you can identify with the character.

    Missie- Glad you liked that.

    Jenny- Preaching to the choir!

    Capillya- Tried to find you, but couldn't thanks for that very kind comment. It's always great to hear that someone thinks you write a good review. We are our own worst critics. Do try to enter some of the give aways! You might win a copy!

    Melissa- So glad to see you have power and are safe. Some books just inspire! So this one broke the comtemps for you? Good one to do that.

  10. Wow, great review. I haven't heard of this book before and the story sounds different from any I've read. I don't know that I could read it all in one sitting though...once I start sounds like a heart breaking good read.

  11. Book Sake- I didn't cry. I don't know if anyone else did. It's emotional yes, but the author doesn't make you pity Carly or feel sorry for her in any way. That's what's so unique about the story. It's only told from her point of view and even in her lowest moments, I felt her strength. Maybe it was just me. She was a surfer. You have to be tough to surf in Australia!

  12. Wonderful, wonderful review Heather!

  13. Thanks Small! You gave me the courage to post it!



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