Friday, May 2, 2008

Breath by Tim Winton

Rating: 8/10

Published: 2008
Number of pages: 216

Started: 29 April 2008
Finished: 1 May 2008

Summary (taken from blurb):
When paramedic Bruce Pike arrives too late to save a boy found hanged in his bedroom he senses immediately that this lonely death is an accident.

Pike knows the difference between suicide and misadventure. He understands only too well the forces that can propel a kid toward oblivion. Not just because he's an ambulance-man but because of the life he's lived, the boy he once was, addicted to extremes, flirting with death, pushing every boundary in the struggle to be extraordinary, barely knowing where or how to stop.

So begins a story about the damage you do to yourself when you're young and think you're immortal.

Breath is a coming-of-age story about the teenaged 'Pikelet', who befriends the reckless 'Loonie' and their surfing mentor 'Sando'. Pikelet and Loonie develop a friendly rivalry and push themselves and each other to their physical and mental limits. Under Sando's watchful eye, they gradually become more daring and take on bigger and more dangerous waves.

While I sometimes found myself getting a little impatient with all of the surfing descriptions, I also got more and more absorbed, to the point where I imagined that I felt a little short of breath at the same time that Pikelet was struggling for breath after getting dumped by a huge wave. The vivid descriptions really enabled me to be there, cresting the waves right alongside Pikelet.

As the story goes along, it gets more and more depressing as Pikelet gets in over his head. Ultimately it's a story of triumph, but there's always an underlying current of sadness that permeates throughout the entire book and doesn't make for a particularly happy read, albeit it's a very good read.

This isn't usually the type of book I would go for, but it's by one of Australia's most critically-acclaimed authors and I've been wanting to read his work for a while. I'm looking forward to more of it.

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