Set in Sydney in the 90s, the sudden death of Sam's Mum means he has to live with the Aunty they no longer associate with and his cousins Minty and Shane. Minty's on the cusp of getting into the Surfing Pro tour and Shane just seems to hate Sam. A lot.
Sam is reeling from his mum's death and his life as he knew it is falling into free fall.
A promising student, he hasn't commenced Year Twelve, takes dangerous risks, drinks and doesn't care about his life. Beneath it all simmers an aggression he can't control and he's on a road to destruction he may not recover from.
This book is peppered with rich, fleshed out characters and lots of surfing references and culture. Minty's character is a direct juxtaposition to Sam's. Where Minty is determined, driven to succeed and sees kindness in everyone, Sam is flailing, and doesn't care about anything. Yet, there's such a profound helplessness to Sam, that the reader can't help but will him to do better and embrace good things that come his way.
For Sam to find the inner strength to improve his situation is immensely difficult because he hasn't had a chance to grieve and reflect on his mum's sudden and tragic death. This is compounded by the lack of emotional support from his detached, dysfunctional extended family.
Extra characters such as his new friend Jono offer Sam opportunities to seek less destructive social opportunities. Jono is a decent and loyal character who accepts Sam. Together with Ruby and love-interest Gretchen, these diverse and mature characters leave the reader hoping Sam finds clarity and peace. Sam learns and grows after making some bad choices and his intelligence and inner decency are the conduit for positive change.
What I enjoyed most about this book is the heartfelt pain as told through the eyes of a male teen protagonist. The author has captured Sam's voice and gives a great portrayal of his pain, character and behaviour. Zorn also inserts various references to 90s music and artists which help Sam navigate his feelings.
A Prime Minister's Literary Award and CBCA Book of the Year Winner and a multi award winning author of The Protected and The Sky So Heavy.
Title: One Would Think The Deep
Author: Claire Zorn
Publisher: University of Queensland Press, $14.95
Publication Date: 30 May 2016
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult Fiction