Book Review: Breath by Tim Winton

Breath by Tim Winton

Title: Breath

Author: Tim Winton

Genre: Literary Fiction

Number of Pages: 228

Rating: A-

Recommended?: Yes

When Australian teenager Bruce gets into surfing, he falls 100% head-over-heels in love with it. He and his friend Looney are taken under the wing of an older man who pushes them farther and farther into incredibly dangerous situations. Bruce and Looney place the man, Sando, on a pedestal but Sando and his girlfriend Eve are incredibly psychologically abusive and manipulative, changing the lives of the two boys forever.

This is a very dark book which is also beautifully written, filled with atmosphere and thoroughly believable characters. I don’t know the first thing about surfing and I’ve never so much as touched a surfboard, but that didn’t matter. It was all about the characters and their relationships. One of the topics this book covers that I haven’t seen handled that many times in fiction before is a woman sexually abusing a young boy.

I was relieved that this was taken completely seriously and wasn’t played off as a joke or ‘learning experience’ because people take that attitude all too often when the usual genders are switched. By the end you could see how deep Bruce’s emotional scars were and you really felt for him. This is the first book I’ve read by Tim Winton and I want to read more of his stuff, and I’d also like to watch the film adaptation of this novel eventually. I haven’t read much Australian literature but this book really pulls the reader into the ruggedness of the terrain and the wildlife.


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