Out in the Scruffy Sticks: Floundering

flounderingFloundering by Romy Ash

A powerful, beautifully written novel about two young brothers left alone by their mother in a beachside caravan park in the searing heat of an Australian summer.

First Impressions: Strong characterisation, particularly the mother Loretta and younger son Tom. The series of events in the first few pages were crystal clear and despite just a few hints I feel like I understood the family’s background.

Highlights: I thought the author did a wonderful job of telling the story through an 11 year old boy’s eyes. The characters of Tom and his brother Jordy were perfect. Romy Ash included so many small details that are particular to children of that age. For instance, I laughed when Tom was swinging his arms around and told Jordy that he was minding his own business and walking along; if he happened to hit Jordy it wouldn’t be his fault.

I really liked Loretta’s character too and wish I knew more of her story but as it is all told by an 11 year old I guess you don’t get all that. The author perfectly captures the Australian heat in summer, such as describing the tight feeling skin from sunburn or t-shirt tans. The author also captures remote towns and their inhabitants suffering from neglect and destitution well. The menace facing the boys was subtly done which probably made it more unsettling.

If I was an editor: As I said, I did want to know more about Loretta’s story but the novel was a bit of a boys own adventure reality check and I admired this originality. Actually, it’s not just Loretta’s story I wanted more of, I would have liked to see the whole family explored.

Overall: Scarily realistic and cautiously told.