Author:   Katey Weselcouch
Publisher: SLG Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-59362-211-4

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In her debut graphic novel, Katey Weselcouch covers the final week in the senior year of a group of young women at a liberal-arts school who still have a range of issues to work out before entering the world of adult responsibility. As can be imagined, as this stage Emma and friends are more set on partying and clubbing than on seriously considering their futures. Although, on the surface, the floundering time might appear to be trivial and of scant lasting value, the dilemmas that are faced by the largely female protagonists are very real to those of this age.
 
How best to navigate around the tricky world of relationships, expanding sexuality, and the wider society are a few of the many issues that are explored in this novel. Okay, the work does have a number of failings, such as the limited range of the dialogue, the stereotyping and two-dimensionality of especially the secondary characters, and the lack of impetus and overall direction of the plot, but then the work has been named the
floundering time
for a reason—unless college goers are focused single-mindedly on their studies, or on a particular cause, such as politics or religion, this phase in one’s life does tend to be one of experimentation and of trying to sort out what really makes one tick. So, although the vagueness and indecisiveness of the characters might alienate those readers who are looking for a text with greater meaning than the floundering time appears, at least at first glance, to have, the angst expressed by the youngsters who people these pages is, in fact, relevant to, and reflective of, their setting and circumstances.
 
The expectations and limitations to which we are prone when first setting out into the post-teenage world of relationships are the key foci of the floundering time. The transgendered nature of the two male protagonists and the flirtations between the female characters should be of interest to young readers who are, as yet, indecisive about their own sexuality. The appeal of foreign places is catered to with references to the narrator’s experiences in Paris during the previous year, based on the author’s own encounters with the Parisian lifestyle while studying abroad. Music and culture also gets a look in with references to the punk and indie rock way of life.
 
The illustrations, done by Weselcouch herself, are all, apart from the cover, in black-and-white, showing mainly the changing moods of the characters themselves, as well as their encounters with others. The lack of capitalization and use of cursive throughout might bother some, as well as might the amount of swearing and blasphemy used in the text. However, that the floundering time truly reflects “simultaneous intensity and stillness,” as the author intended, is indisputable.       

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