I felt wretched by the end of the story, so exhausted as if it had been I out there in the ocean falling off the board and nearly drowning. And a little melancholy about it all. Yet I've never touched a surf board, never attempted to hold my breath under water until my vision narrows and I see stars and never felt that free. This is all the result of the mastery work of the author.
Bruce Pike, a paramedic, is thrown back into recollecting his own youth when he is called out to deal with another teenage adventure gone wrong.
Winton wallows in the past, the after (closer to the character's contemporary time) is glossed over flippantly all of the character's struggle to find balance again is mentioned but not gone into the same depth as his youth. However, after the teen life Bruce led, nothing will ever fill the empty space; no deep breath ever will.
Yet again my only complaint is in the formatting; quotation marks seem to be non-existent. Which forced me to pay more attention and also made me a little annoyed.
If we read books when we were young to learn and books to entertain when we are older; this book is the in-between or really it highlights in our own life the crazy mistakes, the power of fear and adrenaline and whether we will like what we reflect back upon when life is near the end. This is either a warning or an invite to hold our breath.