2008, 218 pp.
Ugh. I thought this was about a teen boy surfing in Australia. I wanted it to be about a teen boy surfing in Australia. And it was, for about 150 pages, then it goes off into a weird and extreme area that I will not mention here. I feel ripped off because I enjoyed the first 3/4 of the book, but then to have to be subjected to...blech.
Pikelet and Loonie are two teenage boys obsessed with surfing. They meet up with Sando, a guy in his mid 30's who coaches them in the sport and sometimes encourages them to go a little too far with it. Sando's wife, Eva, was an extreme skier but now has a blown knee. Consequently, she's bitter because her husband still gets to do what he loves and because he's not spending any time with her. Breath is about pushing everything in life to the extreme to see how far one can go.
I'm giving it 2 stars because Tim Winton is a good writer and I enjoyed all but the last fourth (which totally ruined the whole thing for me.)
Here's an example of a passage I did enjoy:
I will always remember my first wave that morning. The smells of paraffin wax and brine and peppy scrub. The way the swell rose beneath me like a body drawing in air. How the wave drew me forward and I sprang to my feet, skating with the wind of momentum in my ears. I leant across the wall of upstanding water and the board came with me as though it was part of my body and mind. The blur of spray. The billion shards of light. I remember the solitary watching figure on the beach and the flash of Loonie's smile as I flew by; I was intoxicated. And though I've lived to be an old man with my own share of happiness for all the mess I made, I still judge every joyous moment, every victory and revelation against those few seconds of living.