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This review is from: Breath (Paperback)
The title of this book is perfect. It's all about being alive, about pushing being alive to the very limits, and about how breathing is so integral to everything that happens to every single one of us.
The young Pikelet is a very endearing and charming narrator, but the main section of the book is sandwiched between chapters by the grown Pikelet looking back at the few months when he was 15 that shaped the rest of his life. This makes those few months poignant and vivid and they are written in such a mesmerisingly beautiful way that I can not understand why Winton has not won every literary prize going.
the only thing 15-year-old Pikelet is really good at is swimming and he has mastered the technique of holding his breath underwater. This unlikely talent leads him into a friendship with Loonie, the damaged and dangerously reckless son of the pub landlord in the backwater Australian town where both boys live. Together they begin to learn to surf and this leads them into a friendship with Sando, a surf-guru, and his wife Eva.
As Sando mentors the boys and pushes them to take greater and greater risks out at sea, you feel drawn into this book. I've never read better descriptions of the sea, it's amazing. But it's not just the sea that threatens Pikelet by being unpredictable, deep, beautiful and dangerous all at the same time.
I haven't given this book five stars because of the sexual awakening chapters. There's something in them, signposted early on, that, imho, took something away from the book rather than adding to it. But please don't let that stop you reading it. For the most part, it's an exhilerating ride on the crest of a wave.