Flora & Ulysses – Literature – Setting

The story is set in an ordinary suburban neighborhood during a summer break in the 21st century.  Flora lives with her mother in a decent house with a backyard, whereas her father lives in a flat of an apartment complex.

Even though divorces are very common in this century, Flora still has a lot of trouble with the divorce of her parents. Not only the physical separation, but also the emotional distress cause her to suffer. Through the divorce, Flora, as an only- child, has lost all her stability and is caught in the middle between her mother and her father.
On top of all that, Flora is struggling with her mother, who cannot understand Flora’s introverted isolation and worries about her lack of friends. She does not understand that the only world in which Flora feels safe and at ease is her world of comics. Neither she nor her ex-husband see the extent to which Flora tries to escape her present circumstances – either by retreating to childhood memories or by immersing herself in comic book adventures.

And then her two worlds collide in the character of Ulysses. Her normal suburban world is infused with comic book characters and action. Ulysses brings the comic strip to life: flying through the diner, vanquishing cats, struggling against an arch nemesis. Everyday life becomes a superhero story. And Flora, formerly only a silent witness of heroism through her reading, becomes an active superhero in her own right. She saves Ulysses’s life, and together they defeat their enemies and solve all of their problems – even the seemingly mundane ones: family conflict resolution, for one.

This intersection of “normal” and “comic” settings is not only responsible for most of the humor in the novel, but even more importantly it serves as the engine of the story: this connection is what makes unlikely friendships possible and unlikely heroines capable of saving the day and themselves.