About the book

From the multi award-winning author of The Protected and The Sky So Heavy comes a ground-breaking young adult masterpiece about lost young men.

After his mum dies Sam goes to live with the strangers she cut ties with seven years ago: Aunty Lorraine and his cousins Shane and Minty.

Sam is soon surfing with Minty to cut through the static fuzz in his head. But as the days slowly meld into one another, and ghosts from the past reappear, Sam has to make the ultimate decision … will he sink or will he swim.

Book cover of One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn
Published by: 
University of Queensland Press

About the author


Claire Zorn lives on the south coast of New South Wales with her husband and two small children. Her first young adult novel, The Sky So Heavy, was a CBCA Honour Book for Older Readers and was shortlisted for the Aurealis and Inky Awards. Her second book, The Protected, was the winner of the 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Young Adult Fiction, Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards – Young Adult Fiction and CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers. One Would Think the Deep is her third book for young adults.

Image of author Claire Zorn

Judges’ comments

Claire Zorn has created a sensory allegory of grief and rage in One Would Think the Deep. Set in a quintessential beachside community in 1997, Zorn traces Sam’s relocation from the city as he reels, baffled and angry, from the death of his mother. He finds some solace in surfing. His encounters with the waves and the unseen Leviathan monster of the deep become a metaphor for sparring with depression and destruction. His growing mastery of surfing signals a possible outcome of hope and healing. Sam begins a tentative relationship with athletic Gretchen. Another pivotal character is Ruby who challenges the misogyny of surfing culture and whose Aboriginal heritage forms a counterpoint to Sam’s hidden family background. However, the authentic male characters are the heart of the novel, with popular cousin Minty and honourable Jono a foil to smouldering Sam.

Jeff Buckley’s music and “the space between the notes” in his song Grace provide a soundtrack to the era and template for the writing shape and style. The allusive title and epigraph about rousing the Leviathan who “leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair”, comes from the Biblical book of Job, a picture of the suffering that now ensnares Sam. This powerful novel embodies the layered depths of masculine grief and struggle to maturity.