Friday, June 22, 2012
Review: Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar
Publication date: April 26th 2012
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
There aren’t that many real Maja books out there, books that hit the very center of my soul, that make me dizzy with admiration and excitement. And as it turns out, I love heavily atmospheric books. If you’d asked me yesterday, I would have vehemently denied it. Sure, some of my favorite books fit the description (The Scorpio Races, The Space Between), but I always thought of them as exceptions rather than a rule. What I realized with Night Beach is that the way these books make me feel is what I’m chasing the entire time, what I’m hoping for every time I open a new book. Night Beach made me want to cry and throw up and hug the book and laugh and rock back and forth and hide somewhere warm and safe, but most of all, it made me Feel! And nevermind that the strongest feeling it evoked was dread, it made everything sharper and more beautiful.
Slipping into Abbie’s skin was almost effortless, she is conscious of her every feeling, every color she sees, every breath she takes. Even when she dislikes herself, she understands what she’s doing and why she’s doing it. I kept wondering whether anyone can truly be that self-aware and aware of their surroundings. Most people just stumble through life with one eye closed, squinting through the other, but good authors, really good authors like Kirsty Eagar, stop to notice things and then make you notice them too. They provide insight you wouldn’t normally have.
Peeking through my fingers, what I see is light. I take my hands away from my face, and stand up, and I can’t understand how it is that I’m aware of the rest of the world, but I’m not really in it. It’s like I’ve been tucked into a crease. Because although the southerly is still howling, and the ocean is snarled and messy, and further up the beach are my friends and the break and the wall, where I am is completely still, except for a circling cloud of luminous sand.
Night Beach is filled with symbolism. In one of the most powerful scenes, Abbie eats little pieces of paper she’s been collecting since she was a kid. They contain every hope she ever wrote down, and she opens the little box and swallows them one by one. There is so much emotion in that little scene. I choked up thinking about this girl burying all her hopes and dreams deep into herself, literally eating everything she’s ever wanted. Things like that make this book really unforgettable. Most of the time though, trying to understand it is like trying to interpret a dream you can barely remember. There are dozens of possible answers, but the right one is just beyond your reach.
Raw Blue was one of the first books that showed me how YA can have true literary value. Unbelievably enough, Night Beach took this a step further and made me forget I was reading YA, made me forget I was reading at all at times. Abbie’s shadows engulfed me, surrounded me completely, and made me want to run to the brightest, sunniest place I could find.
If you’re very attached to clean endings and logical solutions, this is most definitely not a book for you. I’m still not quite sure what it’s about, I have no idea what to make of it, but I know it shook me to the core, and that’s all that matters to me right now.
This book was a birthday gift from Lisa and I was so happy when it came in the mail, but now that I’ve actually read it, I can honestly say it’s one of the best presents I’ve ever received.