‘…the yacht’s name was Indigo Blue. It suited the little boat’s round lines, she thought with relief, because sailor’s superstition said it was bad luck to change a boat’s name.’
Thank you very much to Hachette Children’s Books Australia for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Jessica Watson is an Australian sailor, who, at just 16 years of age, completed a solo circumnavigation of the southern hemisphere; now Watson has added bestselling author to her already incredible resume. Indigo Blue is her first YA novel (the other being an autobiography), and features her first-class knowledge of sailing and boat matinence, as well as a combination of fascinating Australia history, magical realism, and romance.
Alex feels like a fish out of water in her new hometown – the sleepy little lakeside village of Boreen Point where she is reluctantly sent to live with her slightly eccentric aunt for her final year of high school. None of Alex’s classmates could care less about the new girl, so Alex couldn’t care less about them . . . or so she tries to tell herself.
As a distraction from what is quickly shaping up to be a very lonely year, Alex spends her savings on a rundown little yacht and throws herself into restoring it. An offer to help a shy classmate with a history assignment leads to a curious discovery and the beginnings of a friendship, but it’s Sam – the sailmaker’s apprentice – and his mysterious ways that really capture Alex’s attention …
Indigo Blue is a lovely novel that kept a smile on my face from start to finish. By far my favourite element of the book is the mystical storyline, which develops slowly and intrigingly. Indigo Blue comes across as a standard contemporary YA book: girl moves to a small town, meets a hot guy, falls for him, etc. – which is a story we are all very familiar with – but it most definitely is not. Indigo Blue is more like a magical realism book, but also filled with local folklore, Aussie history, and vivid descriptions of coastal Australia.
Alex was a very plain protagonist, but for the most part I liked her. While I was quite shocked by Watson’s choice to write this book in third person – and indeed maintain it would have been much better off in first person – there is much to love from Alex, namely her confidence, intelligence, and the strong head she has on her shoulders. There were a few occasions Alex dealt with sexism within the boating world, and you just know that that was inspired by situations Watson would have undoubtedly dealt with herself during her sailing career, and I was very impressed by Alex’s response to it.
I simply adored the budding relationship between Alex and Sam, the strange boy she meets when she moves to Boreen Point. At first, I thought their relationship would follow that terrible insta-love trope and was so happy when it didn’t. Alex is intrigued by him a little too quickly and unrealistically in my opinion, but the development of their friendship was written to perfection, even as the reader can tell there is something more than friendship between them. I love the jokes between the two, how respectful Sam is of her friends, how he helps Alex with her boat … just everything between them was simply wonderful. I really applaud Watson for her fantastic representation of a sweet and healthy young adult relationship.
While I found the writing easy to read and thought it flowed naturally, I was a little put off by the use of first person. Although the novel isn’t technically a contemporary, it still has those elements and it’s not often you would come across a contemporary YA novel that utilises third person narrative. This meant that it was a little difficult for me to become invested in the novel during the early chapters, and in fact, it was only when Alex and Sam become close and she learns about his secret that I started properly enjoying the novel. Third persons narrative choice just felt awkward to me. However, this is very much a personal choice and those who don’t mind genre conventions being played around with might not mind.
All in all, I really enjoyed Indigo Blue. I thought it a lovely, refreshing Australian YA book that successfully combined history, sailing and magical realism, set in beautiful coastal Australia. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a sweet and fascinating YA read that has a hint of romance.
Let me know your thoughts about Indigo Blue!!