Water imagery abounds in Darren and Simon Groth’s Infinite Blue. The two brothers, writing as a team, weave a neighbourhood flood, an important bathtub chat, and a dripping shower into a story that sees water as something mysterious, powerful, and even subtly magical. The authors sustain the imagery beautifully, reminding readers that for Australian teenagers Ash and Clayton, water is a driving force in their lives. Which makes perfect sense, given that Ash is a world-record-setting speed swimmer, who met Clayton when she rescued him from drowning in a riptide.
The young couple’s bond is tested several times: by Ash’s manically ambitious mother, whose own swimming career was sidelined by an injury; by a long separation as Ash is whisked off to tour America after her recent victory; and by a devastating event about halfway through the novel. All the while, Clayton, a talented artist, finds himself disturbed by the pieces he is creating. Using Clayton’s artwork as a reflection of the character’s fears and anxieties is a great device and affords Clayton a passion equal to Ash’s love of the water.
The one discordant note in the book is how Ash is constantly striving to convince her boyfriend that her success won’t change her or alter their relationship. While it’s refreshing to see a pairing where the artistic, introverted partner is a young man and the happy-go-lucky jock is a young woman, Ash’s ongoing management of Clayton’s worry about her achievements falls flat. This issue improves as the story progresses, however, and especially after the derailing event that shapes the second half of the novel.
Apart from the dynamic between the leads taking some time to find its footing, there is a lot to appreciate in this novel. There’s no sign of disconnect or bumpiness with the two-author team; indeed, the story moves along swiftly without ever feeling rushed, and readers will fall in love with Clayton’s Finnish grandmother, Tuula.
The conclusion pushes at genre boundaries, playing with magic realism to take the characters in a surprising direction. In the end, this is a book about passion, whether it involves the heat of young love or the cool of infinite water.