Published by Macmillan Children's Books
Published on 12 July 2018
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When they got in the lift, they were strangers.
Sasha, who is desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he's the best-looking guy in the lift and is eyeing up Velvet, who knows what that look means; Dawson, who used to be on TV, used to be handsome, and is sincerely hoping no one recognizes him; Kaitlyn, who's losing her sight but won't admit it; and Joe, who shouldn't be here at all, but who wants to be here the most.
And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year.
“Floored” is a collaborative novel written by Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson, and Eleanor Wood. The authors all met in an elevator, and then decided to write the story of six very different teens who also met in an elevator, but the story only checks in on them on the anniversary of that meeting one day a year like an annual snapshot of their lives. This led to both an interesting and frustrating reading experience.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s entertaining to follow these characters as they grow and evolve, but the limitation of just one day per year left me craving more. I mean, life is messy and intricate, and by only showing us these brief glimpses, we’re missing out on a lot of the juicy stuff. It’s like watching a TV show where they only air the season finales – where’s the build-up and the in-between moments?
The main selling point is that the book is written by seven different authors, and I can only assume that each author tackled one character’s perspective with the final author bringing in the third person perspective to round out the end of the day each year. Unfortunately, some of the character’s voices were much more distinct than others, and personalities changed over the years as the teens grew up, which sometimes seemed jarring as we didn’t see the growth, just the result. It also means there was no grand climax to tie things up. It’s like being at a New Year’s Eve fireworks show where each firework goes off individually, but there’s no big finale that leaves you incredibly satisfied that you stayed up until midnight again when you could have been getting a decent night’s sleep.
Although each of the characters had very different lives, struggles, wealth, and dreams, I struggled to understand why they kept in touch. Because we only see one day a year, I couldn’t tell why they kept gravitating towards each other. There was a hint that some of the characters felt like they couldn’t talk to their own friends, or grew apart from their own friends, but (again, I feel like I’m repeating this sentiment) because we only see a snapshot of one day, I felt like this wasn’t really explored. They had nothing in common, which was supposed to be part of the charm, but I just couldn’t understand why they all kept in touch.
This book was essentially like a puzzle with a few missing pieces. It was an entertaining read that offered a peek into the lives of these different characters, but the yearly snapshot format left me yearning for more depth. You would also think that the collaboration of multiple authors would add diversity to the characters, but I’m pretty sure they were all white; we only had one disability rep and one diverse sexuality rep; and while there was a really great opportunity to add in further diverse sexuality rep (I was waiting for the slut-shamed character to come out as ace, to be honest), the focus really seemed to be on the wealth gap: one of the teens was stinking rich while the other five really struggled with money.
I’m glad I read this book on my journey to read everything by Sara Barnard, but I think the authors had more fun collaborating on writing it than I did reading it.