Do you remember that last night before graduation? Feeling that, despite the pangs of sadness in your stomach, that you had to own this night – relish it before everything changes? Katy Weselcouch’s debut graphic novel The Floundering Time will definitely leave you revisiting that night with a poignant sense of nostalgia.
Best friends Emma and Joey are in their senior year at a women’s college, navigating through their last days in the school’s isolated scene. Emma is harboring a long standing crush on her transgender friend Elliott, while messy Joey works her way through stoic bad-girl types. They stumble through drunken parties, rock shows and day trips, avoiding the looming questions of their “futures” in pursuit of misguided crushes and cool girl status.
A LITTLE TWIST OF FATE
In a twist of fate that I find a little unnerving, this novel found its way to me as my own college years come to an end, and I’m glad that it did. Written from the perspective of Emma, a senior in her last few weeks of college, The Floundering Time tells a story that anyone can empathize with. As Emma navigates through parties, friendships, and a crush on the brink of becoming something more, you will find yourself looking back to when you went through those same things.
Weselcouch’s subtle details such as a room that slowly feels less like home, and the sudden influx of cameras at every party bring a sense of realness to the novel. But nothing is more authentic than the narration, which really made this story hit home for me. Through Emma’s thoughts the author manages to capture the universal sad/happy/excited/terrified feeling that graduation brings, and she also makes you realize that you’re not alone with this feeling. Her characters serve as a great reminder that everyone gets scared about an uncertain future, and everyone is reluctant to leave a familiar past.
Another great aspect of this story is that while you may identify with the characters, the story is still its own. Even though Emma could be any girl you see on a college campus, she isn’t. She has her own story to tell, one in which she’s a lesbian with a major crush on the transgendered and too-recently single Elliot. Wait, what?! Lesbian? Transgender? If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention these seemingly huge plot points sooner, it’s because they really aren’t all that huge. Which leads me to my favorite thing about this graphic novel: It isn’t a story about a lesbian’s last days at college, it’s a story about a girl who happens to be a lesbian’s last days at college. The sexuality of the characters isn’t highlighted any more than what kind of coffee they like or music they listen to, so don’t let it scare you away from a good read.
BOTTOM LINE: RECOMMENDED
Overall I really enjoyed reading The Floundering Time, and I recommend it to anyone about to embark on a new stage in their lives, or anyone who wants to remember what that was like. It will definitely have you going to look for pictures from that last big party, and wondering whatever happened to that person you had such a big crush on. The Floundering Time by Katy Weselcouch is due out in May, just in time for graduation.