Title: Night Beach
Author: Kirsty Eagar
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: April 2012
Rating: 5 stars
There are not many books that leave me draw-droppingly speechless. There are not many books that make me yell at them when they’re over. There are not many books that cause me to re-read the last few pages over and over again. This book was one of those books that did make me do these things. I just finished it about ten minutes ago and am still a little in shock.
Abbie does not love art – she’s obsessed with it. She’s also obsessed with the ocean and surfing. Her other obsession is Kane, but ever since he’s gotten back from his trip, something’s changed. There’s something not right about him. And soon after he returns, Abbie starts having these dreams that don’t make sense, and things start to disappear from her room, and the little girl she babysits starts to creep her out by relaying strange messages from her imaginary friend. Nothing makes sense, everything feels wrong, and Abbie doesn’t feel safe in her own home anymore. Kane doesn’t feel safe. But Abbie can’t stop herself from craving him, and she struggles to find out what went wrong on Kane’s trip, and what he brought back with him.
I didn’t have high expectations for this novel, because (shame on me) I read through quite a few negative reviews on Goodreads. I shouldn’t have done that. I always do that and then I go into a book with low expectations and sometimes I don’t even read the thing, I just skip over it and say “I’ll come back.” I’m so glad I didn’t do that with Night Beach. This novel was amazing. I quickly realized that the author was Australian due to the excessive use of “mate” and the way the characters spoke. I’ve never read anything written by an Australian, or a book set in Australia, so I thought it was cool to see words like “tyres” instead of “tires” and “realise” instead of “realize.” I admit I had to look up a lot of words, like “ute” and “gumboots” and “doona.” Obviously, I’m a sheltered American. I was also pretty lost during the surfing scenes – I know pretty much nothing about surfing, so all the lingo was a bit confusing at first. Eagar’s writing was beautiful and intense. I was so swept-up in the story that I finished it in less than a day; I couldn’t put the thing down! I literally took, like, a three-hour bath because I didn’t want to put the book down for five minutes to get out and dry off and stuff (I know, I’m lame). This book got my heart pounding and aching, and easily reassured my fear in young children with “imaginary” friends. Although this book is considered YA, it seemed a lot more mature and different than other young adult novels, but since Abbie is only 17, it’s grouped into YA.
I loved Abbie. I absolutely loved her. I could relate to her and her life on so many levels. She is easily one of the most realistic and relatable protagonists I’ve ever come across. I just wanted to give her a hug and be her best friend because she reminded me of myself in too many ways.
My only issue with this book: the ending. Oh dear god, the ending. I honest-to-god fell off my bed and re-read the last couple pages like, ten times, and yelled at the book and cursed the author and teared up a little and just kept asking “how can it end like this?” The ending left me sad and confused and a little hopeful but mostly just confused. I don’t understand. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe I’ll have to read it again. Maybe I’ll email Eagar and force her to explain it to me. I don’t know. All I know is, this book was amazing, it is a must-read, and you’re missing out if you skip over it. Do yourself a favor – don’t read the Amazon reviews or the Goodreads reviews or whatever; go straight from this review to buying the book to reading it. You won’t regret it.
Favorite Quote: “Sometimes it’s the people we don’t get to have who stay with us the most.”