Sunday, April 7, 2013

Book Review: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

A Remote Modern Day Wilderness

This book chronicles the life of Ava Bigtree, a thirteen year old girl living in the Everglades that also just happens to be a local tourist attraction as her family is famous for alligator wrestling. Her life is about to change in so many ways after her mother passes away and the family faces the foreclosure of their land and home. While Ava's family postures as a native tribe with a rich history and culture, not everything is exactly how it seems and the layers continue to be peeled away as the reader is absorbed into this book. We watch as Ava begins to realize so many things, even in her isolation from the rest of the world, and watch similar struggles with her two older siblings. Ava hatches plans to save them all, her family, her farm and her dreams, as well as herself.

The story unfolds dramatically, and we follow the different story lines that seem to be running parallel but in truth are intertwined. Sometimes I had to ask where was this all going, and there wer times where it dragged on a bit, but this really gave us more depth into the characters. The description of Ava's life, her home and those around here brought these characters to life and I rooted for her. This story is pretty dramatic and intense in so many ways - I don't want to give anything away - and while some of the plot doesn't seem all that realistic what does ring true is Ava's combination of spunk and naivety that a 12 year old girl should have and I found myself cheering for her.

All in all, worth the read!

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