Book review: The Broken Wave by Matthew Ryan Davies

Tuesday, December 26, 2023 Permalink

I had an early copy of The Broken Wave by Matthew Ryan Davies and the book’s pages all curled up*, making it a tad hard to manoeuvre but it was a perfect introspective read to occupy me for a few hours on Christmas afternoon – whipping through it in one sitting.

Andrew (Drew) and Tom meet only briefly as kids but bond in the way kids can but adults struggle to. Drew in particular seems to have shut himself off, living a very isolated life‚Äďas a kid with his books and words; and as an adult as a writer (in his case, a very solitary profession). His wife Claire, a social worker, has broken through his defences, but we learn the only other person with whom he’s connected in the same way, was Tom.

Book review: The Broken Wave by Matthew Ryan DaviesThe Broken Wave
by Matthew Ryan Davies
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia
on 28/11/2023
Source: PanMacmillan
Genres: General Fiction, Literary Fiction
ISBN: 176098793X
Pages: 336

In the small seaside town of Queenscliff, two boys from opposite sides of the world forge a friendship over a summer of sun, adventure and brotherhood. Until a catastrophic event shatters their idyllic childhoods.

Two lives are lost. A lie is told.

Years later, when Tom dies in suspicious circumstances, Drew flies from the US back to Australia for his friend's funeral. Still haunted by that night in 1992, he's about to find out if Tom ever told anyone the truth, if the two events are connected, and if their friendship was worth the price they paid.

His parents were divorced when Drew’s father was shot in a robbery and his mother remarried Mark an American soldier who’d recently returned from Kuwait. Drew and his mother talk about the changes in Mark since his return and later Drew reflects on some of the experimentation that took place and I confess I knew nothing about soldiers being pumped with untested vaccinations and used like guinea pigs.

Drew’s mother is heavily pregnant when they arrive in Australia and soon gives birth to Scarlett. She’s obviously struggling with post-natal depression – unsurprising given she’s been uprooted and moved across the world. Drew takes solace in his friendship with Tom and finds security and stability in Tom’s family.

Drew’s two-year stint ends after only months in a tragedy eluded to, but kept from readers until the end. The incident and secrets kept are referenced in the blurb, so we know there’s more to the story than everyone else realises.

Tom’s death hits Drew harder than expected and his return to Queenscliffe brings back memories buried for almost three decades.

The beauty of this book (for me) is in the introspection forced upon Drew. We learn, particularly from Claire, he prefers not to confront the past or open himself up. Here Drew tries to understand the man his childhood friend became and whether the events of that summer impacted the rest of Tom’s life. And in doing so he’s forced to ask himself the same question.

The Broken Wave by Matthew Ryan Davies was published in Australia by PanMacmillan and is now available.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.

* Usually the pages of my books curl if I’ve been reading in the bath and they’ve gotten a tad damp!


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