Surf Ache by Gerry Bobsien
Walker Books, 2009.
Recommended. Finally, a teenage book without angst, dysfunctional families or spoilt brats! What's left to write about? Well, Gerry Bobsein's passion for surfing shines through this novel about Year 9 student Ella Alonso's move from Melbourne to Newcastle and her discovery of surfing. She has had to leave behind her best friend and her boyfriend and it gets complicated when she soon makes new friends who get her hooked on surfing. She has to make choices about friends. Surfing clashes with her passion for ballet and as she excels at both she has to make a choice here too. Plus her mum was a former surfing champion whose career ended mysteriously. Mum understands all too well her daughter's surf-ache - a 'state of being where all one can think about is getting back onto the waves'.
There is the requisite bitchy rival but here friends and family are warm, caring, and likeable. It is interesting to note Ella and her friends are not hung up on clothes: Ella "never quite had all the right gear. Mum and Dad refused to fork out for the latest this, that or the other. Ella was used to it". (p110). The confidence and happiness of these kids comes from being able to follow their passions in a supportive environment.
The characters are real as well as likeable, with romance and competitions keeping the pages turned. There is much on the art of surfing which may lose some, but you learn a lot about it. We have come a long way from Puberty Blues - the guys and girls are on equal footing here.
My only quibble is that the language of surfing is not explained; a glossary would help. What is a rashie?