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Floating Upstream: A novel about a young Italian girl coming of age as a first generation migrant in Australia Kindle Edition
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The characters in Floating Upstream were well fleshed out and very imperfect which I found frustrating but also understood to be true to life. The story dealt with a number of social issues like violence and sexual freedom and as it was set in the 1970s, I had to keep reminding myself that the reaction I had to the behaviour of some of the characters was unreasonable for the social context of the book. I enjoyed Julia as the POV character and really felt for her trying to break free from her parent’s traditional values. In another time Julia could really have been a wild child but the expectations of her family and also the people of the town really weighed heavily on her. I liked that Julia made a lot of mistakes and she paid the dearly for some of them which doesn’t often happen in other contemporary novels. My only issue with Julia was that the only times I really felt as though she had agency was when she was going to meet Robbie for a late night encounter. Most of the rest of the time she would often think and say things but when it came down to it she didn’t really push the boundaries. This was most evident when she tried to ignore the arranged marriage her parents had set up for her and during those times when her father was violent and it almost seemed like she was having an out of body experience throughout when I would have liked for her to stick up for herself. Again though, this is probably my own perception being clouded by today’s standards.
Most of the other characters are well fleshed out and I enjoyed reading about them, although I wasn’t a huge fan of Robbie as the love interest and couldn’t really understand his appeal. Even if he was attractive, I just couldn’t get on board with the fact that they had literally no contact for months on end and he didn’t even have the decency to write to Julia even though she practically begged him to. Even if I discount the many double standards in their relationship, they just didn’t seem to have much in common and it felt to me like Julia was just someone Robbie was using to pass the time.
Overall, Floating Upstream was a really engaging read for me. I was invested in Julia’s struggle and loved the great description of the town and the slow paced lifestyle. If you’re looking for a great Australian read, why not give this a try?
All in all, this was a really sweet tale. Lots of positivity to go with the bad. It felt raw and real; a reflection of real life. A fictional memoir, almost. Julia's life genuinely sucks, but she remains a dreamer. She has a small support group with her brother and some gypsies, and they help keep her grounded and focused. Friendship and love were huge themes, and they are brought to light in a wonderful,whimsical way.
Narrator tone maintains that whimsical feeling. The reader experiences Julia's longing, heartache, and indecision in a way that will make their heart clench. Emotions were evoked in a purposeful and in-your-face manner. Nothing was sugar coated. That really enhanced the reader experience, I think. Words and sentence structure were really crafted with a singular goal in mind. One that was accomplished very well.
And let me tell you about how well characters were made to go along with that. It's obvious how much care and attention the author paid to them. All of them were integral to the plot and each other. There was so much development to go around, even with the secondary characters. Not one of them finished in the same place they started. They were the kinds of people that readers would easily be able to identify with. In a way, they were all romantic-type characters that fit in well with the floaty narrative.
No matter how much life got her down, Julia kept trudging along. She suffered so many setbacks, like so many people do, but she never gave up. She turned it into fuel to get her through life. I think that's a huge, important takeaway for readers. Inspirational, almost, because life sucks and never goes the way we want it to.
I really liked this narrative. Everything from the plot, to the characters, and the description. The climax and the ending were absolutely perfect, in my opinion. Definitely a must-read for audiences of all ages. Exceptionally well done.