This slim volume is both a crime novel and a love story. The crime is of the worst kind - abuse and neglect of children. The love aspect is more complicated.
Loretta is an occasional mother who is not so much in love with her children as with her own happy childhood. Secretly removing her two sons from their grandparents' care, she sets out to revive her childhood memories by driving them across the Nullarbor in a journey that is fraught with danger. Her destination is a remote and rundown campground where the reader's imagination has her spending many happy family holidays with her parents. There is a lot left unsaid in this novel which leaves the reader considering aspects of the story long after the final page.
A psychologist would have a lot of fun with Loretta's character. She would be placed on a spectrum of one of the "paths" - "sociopath", "psychopath". Again the reader is left to fill in the gaps. Was she born this way or was drug and/or alcohol abuse a factor? Whatever the case, I was left feeling some sympathy for an inept mother who was having a crack at "normality"
Illegal love of a child is another aspect of the story. Neighbour Nev, the anti-hero, also evokes sympathy. From his first encounter with the children he is fighting his urges. Loretta's abandonment of the boys yet again leaves them vulnerable to his advances as they attempt to survive in this remote and inhospitable location. He eventually becomes their saviour.
Floundering" will leave you floundering with your imagination and makes a great weekend read.
Floundering scooped the literary shortlists for 2013, including the Miles Franklin, Australia's most prestigious award, and Romy Ash won the 2013 Sydney Morning Herald Young Novelist of the Year Award.