Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager
Young adult, contemporary, romance
June 2011; Penguin

Winner of the 2010 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, Raw Blue is a haunting story about finding your passion in life.

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?

I mourn all the years I lived my life without having read this book.

Protagonist Carly’s character development is phenomenally genuine and raw in its emotional intensity. Carly defines herself by the sexual assault she suffered but as she allows herself to trust the people who want to love her, she slowly lets go of the suffocating shame that has been weighing heavy on her since she was raped, and begins to heal. Carly’s every action and reaction crackles with sincerity.

This raw emotional authenticity infuses Raw Blue with a deep sense of yearning, intensified by a slow burn romance electrifying in its anticipation, and complicated but utterly satisfying in its eventual fruition. Ryan is the love interest that YA deserves. Though he has secrets of his own, Raw Blue eschews the good-girl-heals-troubled-male-lead trope, focussing instead on a young woman’s recovery from trauma. Her relationship with Ryan isn’t what saves Carly: it’s just a piece of the delicate puzzle of her fragile emotional wellbeing. Their romance is sexy, intricate and realistic.

Compounded with an impeccable evocation of the Northern Beaches and deftly drawn secondary characters, of whom even the unlikable remain sympathetic, the strength of the characterisation in this novel makes Raw Blue as honest and authentic a novel as I've read in a long time.
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  1. Oh, this sounds incredible Soph! I always gravitate towards books that explore healing after the main character has experienced a life altering trauma, the rawness an realistic storyline makes for an emotional and hopeful read. The romance sounds lovely, and kudos to the author for not using it as a tool to solve Carly's issue either. Wonderful review Soph, going to pick up a copy in my next book buying spree <3

    1. Oh do, it's so great! Raw Blue definitely has that element of hope, but it's not contrived or shallow, which is why I loved it so much. Do try to get your hands on it whenever you can - I'd love to know what you think of it!