Ella Alonso was going crazy with the smell of hot chips. She leaned across the bench into the kiosk and tried to communicate telepathically with the sting bean of a cook who was scooping them up out of the fryer and into the draining baskets. Come on, she thought, that’s enough drip-drying. Give them to me. Just give me the chips. At last the cook grabbed the handle of the basket and dumped the chips into the bain-marie. He wrapped them up in butcher’s paper then handed them over.
Ella and her family have moved back to Newcastle from Melbourne after many years’ absence. All Ella’s memories are of Melbourne and the friends and boyfriend she has had to leave behind. Creaky, Ella’s little sister seems to have little trouble adjusting. But Ella is a dancer and the beachside lifestyle is not one she has aspired to. Her dad is very excited to be back and her mother is just working, working, working. But the surf is mesmeric and gradually Ella too falls under its spell. Dance, previously her grand passion, takes a different place in her life. Then an opportunity is presented and Ella must make a choice. Dance or surfing? Add in secrets from her mother’s past, and boys and Ella’s year is a big one.
Surf Ache is a term used to explain the need to surf, the feeling that the whole world revolves around how the waves are breaking. Ella comes from strong surfing genes, although she knows little of this when her family return to Newcastle. While the rest of the family settles quickly into their new/old home, Ella struggles with the changes. She knows she had to leave behind her boyfriend and breaking up was the only option, yet she struggles with the timing. She has to find a new dance school but again struggles to find her place. Everything has changed. Surf Ache uses the third person intimate voice to bring the reader in close to Ella and her turmoil. She is a likeable main character, as is her family. Only Mel, classmate and fellow surfer, seems put out by her arrival. And eventually, some of the reasons for her antagonism become clearer. There are plenty of details for the keen surfer, but not so many that the non-surfer gets lost. An enjoyable read for early- to mid- secondary girls.
Surf Ache, Gerry Bobsien
Walker Books 2009
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
This title can be purchased online from Fishpond.