Into the Sea | Jay Laurie

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Billie (Will) is a small kid bleached by the ocean. He surfs. Riley's bigger, bites his nails and pretends he does too. They roam their beachside suburb, nose drip over their first surf magazine and start to dream of far off places. Suddenly out of a heatwave, a fire erupts to take more than their bushland.

Later, in their mid twenties, the friends reconnect driving across the desert. There they live in the heat, dust and cold salt water, amongst a melting pot of passing travellers and violent incensed locals. Riley forgets a girl he thought he knew and Will's drug addiction gives way to blindness to life beyond the sea which may prove to be even more destructive.

Musings around the campfire become real as Will leaves everything and heads for the tropical islands of Indonesia. At first a phone call, then a postcard, then nothing. Eventually Riley, in a strong relationship with stable work, sets out to try to track him down and, heading deep into the islands, starts to learn things he never knew he should.

Through the early years of their friendship, Into the Sea touches on first freedoms, the seesawing transition from innocence to adolescence and the impact of sudden loss. In later parts, the novel powerfully evokes life on the road and the unpredictability of trusting to chance travelling in remote places. Along the way, it richly and sensitively describes the landscapes of Australia and Indonesia and their people and captures what it really is to ride waves, to be a surfer and, in a more subtle way, the trials, if not impossibilities, of loving one.