Floundering by Romy Ash
What a tragic novel. And by tragic I mean well-written with a tragic storyline. Floundering is the debut novel by Romy Ash and I hope to read more of her novels in future.
It tells the story of 2 boys, Jordy and Tom, who are living with their grandparents until they are ‘kidnapped’ by their estranged mother and taken on a road trip across the Nullarbor to a small caravan park in WA. Their mother, Loretta is a ditsy, heavy drinker and completely incapable of looking after them. Their neighbour Nev, is a seemingly grumpy, old man and does not want the children anywhere near him. This book gives us a good narrative on child neglect from the perspective of 11-year-old Tom.
I like that the narrative is written from Tom’s perspective. He describes everything so innocently but as an adult the reader knows what’s going on and what the children should do. You want to jump into the pages and rescue them. I also really enjoyed the characterisation. All the characters are neither black or white but grey. We see both their good side and bad side. This is particularly apparent in Nev, who, it turns out, has some very dark skeletons in his closet and the boys are both traumatised but ultimately helped by him. It forces the reader to question definitions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
My biggest criticism of the novel is that it drags in places and can be quite predictable. This may have been an attempt on the author’s part to create the tone of a dry and monotonous landscape but I did find myself losing interest at times. If you love action-packed thrillers, this probably isn’t the right book for you.
Aside from that I would recommend this beautiful novel.