Tuesday, April 26, 2011

{read: fiction} Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

An alligator-wrestling tourist trap in Florida, a dead mother, a sister who's dating ghosts, and a grandfather who was exiled to a retirement home after biting a man - what's not to love about this coming-of-age story?

Ava Bigtree wants to follow in the footsteps of her famous alligator-wrestling mother, Hilola Bigtree. She wants to swim among the Seths (their name for the alligators, who are all named Seth), but her family and Swamplandia!, their tourist trap, are both in decline. After Hilola dies from ovarian cancer and the World of Darkness steals all the tourists, things aren't looking good for the Bigtrees. Her brother Kiwi escapes to the mainland, her sister begins to date ghosts, and her father leaves to raise money to fund his plans to upgrade and save Swamplandia!

Russell has a way with language and crafts some sweet sentences. Although I felt stuck in the swamp in the last third of the book, she wound up the story in a way that seemed believable and not too pat.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (Knopf, 2011)
My rating: 3.5 stars

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