Shannon's Reviews > Breath

Breath by Tim Winton
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's review
Aug 04, 2009

really liked it
Read in December, 2008

Australian writer Tim Winton's novel is one that you can devour in one sitting for it will pull you down into it like the undertow that this fantastic writer describes with such breathtaking beauty. We see the events unfold through the eyes of Bruce, now a gnarly paramedic in his 50's who recalls events that transpired when he was a budding teenager in the small town of Sawyer, Australia.

The novel begins with Bruce and a woman partner answering an emergency call from a distraught family whose teenaged son apparently has committed suicide by hanging. Then the narrator jumps back in time to his youth and talks for many pages about his friend Loonie and their strange relationship-- a sort of hero worship on the part of Bruce-- with an exotic former surfing champion Sando who pushes the boys to newer and more dangerous heights as they take on more and more difficult waves as they strive to rise from being just ordinary. Then there is Sando's lonely American wife Eva (former ski champion) who takes Bruce from surfing to sex with an edge.

BREATH is a strange novel indeed. If you are wondering what a teenager's suicide has to do with all this surfing on the Australia coast, as I was, just be patient for Mr. Winton ties up all the loose ends with a powerful wallop. The novel is a coming-of-age novel about sexual awakening, the danger associated with the emotions if they are left to run rampant when you are thirteen or fourteen, the scars that remain in adulthood.

At times a difficult novel but so wonderfully written and the title Breath permeates all aspects of the story. 4.5 stars if I could give them.

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