Click Here To Purchase The Floundering Time

Author and Illustrator:  Katy Weselcouch

Publisher: SLG Publishing
ISBN 978-1-59362-211-4

At first glance, the protagonists of Katy Weselcouch’s  graphic novel , The Floundering Time , seem shallow and stereotypical. After all, here they are in the last week of college with the rest of their lives before them, and all they seem to care about is partying, getting drunk and hooking up. They speak pretentious French ( legacy of a past trip to Paris),  lurch from one porch party to the next and can’t seem to stay away from doomed relationships.   They hang out, shop, eat, eat some more, and endlessly dissect each others’ failed relationships while never quite seeing the woods for the ailing trees in their own.  But keep reading, for this is a book that takes its time letting you in, then disarms you with its quiet tale of unrequited love, sexual identity , and the restorative powers of a strong circle of friends.

hearts Elliot but can’t seem to make any headway with him. It doesn’t help that, while she is a lesbian, he is a transgender in a relationship with another transgender boy, (”What does that make them?” a character asks. “Just queer,” her friend replies.) Her best fille Joey ricochets from one bad girl to the next, wryly calling herself a “punching doll.. the inflatable kind.. taking the punches and popping back up, over and over again.” Through the course of the week, Emma and Joey help each other through hangovers, hookups, crushes and break ups, while slowly winding up with life at college. All the while, time is running out for Emma and Elliott as they natter, bond  and coyly flirt with each other, but just can’t seem to get beyond that.

The Floundering Time captures the confusion and ambivalence of its characters on their reluctant journey towards adulthood. None of the characters really develop over the course of the book, though Emma is an interesting contrast, at once knowing and innocent. She goes from making humid eyes at unattainable goddesses at parties to waiting  demurely for Elliott to make the first  move, with the kind of restraint last seen in a Jane Austen heroine.  "The good things go quietly", she notes, gazing wistfully at a clueless Elliott after a silly exchange of sweaters, and you just might find yourself hoping he'll be her Darcy after all. I know I did.

Weselcouch’s drawing style and the tiny cursive writing she uses for the text give the book the feel of an intimate journal.  I enjoyed its gentle humour, its meandering pace and the way the plot weaves between the past and the present, tracing Emma’s growing attraction for Elliott.  And while sexual identity is an important aspect of the book, it never overpowers the plot - sure, Emma, Elliott and Joey are gay, but their problems are universal, and their ill fated affairs of the heart will probably resonate with a lot of readers.

Click Here To Purchase The Floundering Time