Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

The back cover of this book would have had to have been a disaster for me to not pick it up and give it a try. As an adopted native of the bayou, the front cover alone was just too good to pass up. Yes, yes, judging a book by its front (or back cover) is probably not something I should admit to but in the end...what can I say. There is a reason that cliche is so popular.

In general, I feel like I have had a lucky year when it comes to reading thus far. Almost every book I have picked up this year has been one that I enjoyed. This one was another good read for sure. Swamplandia! tells the story of a family living in Ten Thousand Islands off the coast of Florida whose alligator wrestling theme/adventure park becomes threatened by change, both personal and economic. The story has a mythical feel to it, told through the eyes of several Bigtree family characters who literally wrestle with growing up in a secluded environment. The primary perspective is that of the Bigtree daughter, Ava,  13 years old and at times both resourceful yet naive. Overall, I would recommend this book to others for sure, although I had a slight issue with the ending. Without ruining the details, I guess I would say that I thought the conclusion came too quick and that I am a fan of a bit more redemption in my fiction. That said, this is another good one to pick up and get lost in for sure.

Here is a quick glimpse of what this one is about (from the Amazon page/Booklist review):
Swamplandia! is a shabby tourist attraction deep in the Everglades, owned by the Bigtree clan of alligator wrestlers. When Hilola, their star performer, dies, her husband and children lose their moorings, and Swamplandia! itself is endangered as audiences dwindle. The Chief leaves. Brother Kiwi, 17, sneaks off to work at the World of Darkness, a new mainland amusement park featuring the “rings of hell.” Otherworldly sister Osceola, 16, vanishes after falling in love with the ghost of a young man who died while working for the ill-fated Dredge and Fill Campaign in the 1930s. 

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