Twelve-year-old Kay Whitaker has a severe case of boredom and loneliness. Growing up at the end of a dirt road in Bledsoe, Georgia, doesn’t afford many opportunities for stimulating conversation—or glimmers of hope. School is a place to daydream about being anywhere else. Her brash behavior and language, salty as the marshes surrounding her family’s isolated home, are all raging symptoms of her condition.
With a lazy father, a mother she deems worthless, one brother who badly wants out and another who’s bidding his time, an emotionally compromised sister whom Kay thinks is just plain strange, plus a baby sister buried in the yard, Kay’s desperate for conversation or at least a distraction.
She finds both one hot summer afternoon when she discovers a ramshackle house back in the marsh—and a handsome boy her age named Andy Webber. The chance encounter with the boy, whom Kay immediately decides she will marry one day, sends her family on a spiraling journey that proves anything but happily ever after.
The Floating Girls by Lo Patrick is an atmospheric masterpiece of poverty, secrets, despair, isolation, and mental instability seen through the inexperienced eyes of a 12-year-old.
She refuses to heed her parents’ orders to stay away from the Webbers even after her sister, Sarah-Anne, goes missing. Kay’s parents are woefully ill-equipped to deal with a bright and inquisitive child. They can’t, or won’t, explain why she mustn’t have anything to do with Andy even as Sarah-Anne’s disappearance resurrects the mystery of Mrs. Webber’s death—a suicide some suggest was murder.
As Kay harangues her brothers into helping her uncover answers to the family’s secrets, like why their father fears “the state” so much and bolts out the back door if anyone shows up, and their mother doled out her rare affections only to Sarah-Anne, they discover a tangle of mystery and deceit. Where was Sarah-Anne? What’s the truth behind Mrs. Webber’s death? And were their parents involved in either case?
The Floating Girls by Lo Patrick is an atmospheric masterpiece of poverty, secrets, despair, isolation, and mental instability seen through the inexperienced eyes of a 12-year-old. It’s also a story about leaving childhood behind, navigating harsh life lessons learned too early, and the fragile definition of family. The author has given us a slate of characters, each trapped in unfulfilling lives that reek of needs and secrets.
Lo Patrick is a former lawyer and current novelist. She graduated from the University of Miami magna cum laude and began writing. The Floating Girls is her debut novel.