Breath by Tim Winton - Book Review

This is such a beautifully written story that took Bruce, (Pikelet) through the toughest years of life - adolescence. Desperately looking for role models, he finds a mate in Loonie, who is also trying to work himself out and together they find Sando, an older man, who sees their potential, and tries to live through their youth.

Sando uses their youth for his own dreams and pushes them to the extreme so that they are always wanting for more. The surfing becomes an addiction where it can only become more extreme for them to get the buzz that they are after. The rest of life becomes too ordinary for them. Tim Winton deals with the pains of this age so well, as well as the pain of failures of the older folk, Sando and his partner Eve.

There is this constant questioning, tension going on through Pikelet's mind, trying to be "out there", something different, but when everything fell apart with Sando and Loonie, he looked around town and he was unsure. "Was I serious? Could I do something gnarly, or was I just ordinary?" (pg 76). Pikelet begins to feel as though he just doesn't fit in the ordinary either, and that he really needs the "extraordinary" when ..."There was such and intoxicating power to be had from doing things that no-one else dared try" (pg 115) and "Everything around me seemed just so pointless and puny. The locals in the street looked cowed and weak and ordinary" (pg 116).

Tim's descriptions of ordinariness and extremes and the intoxications of it were brilliant and would be great as a study item for kids, boys in particular, 16 yrs plus, as long as it was a guided study. There are certainly some fairly heavy themes in here. Heavy sexual, erotic themes and addiction themes that need to be dealt with in a "Read and Discuss" situation with the adolescence age group.

I did find the ending a little abrupt after such a brilliant in-depth study of the adolescent years, and felt that it didn't link well enough. That said, the book has stuck with me very strongly. It is a great book, brilliant even especially for the possibilities it holds for helping adolescents understand themselves a little more. Tim, I think is a brilliant writer, and each book seems to only get better. 9/10

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