Journey. Swamplandia! might be the most unusual coming-of-age novel I’ve ever read. I enjoyed the creativity in Karen Russell’s debut short story collection, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, and that same unique and quirky voice soars in Swamplandia! The title refers to the alligator amusement park owned and operated by the Bigtree family, that has fallen on hard times following the death of star alligator wrestler, Hilola Bigtree. Her daughter, 13-year-old protagonist Ava Bigtree, decides to search the swamp for missing sister, Osceola, 16, who left home to marry a ghost. Their father moved to the mainland, and 17-year-old brother, Kiwi, has gone to work for a competing amusement park, the World of Darkness. Ava’s journey is described in language that led me to reread some sentences as I savored the carefully chosen words a second time. Readers willing to try out a new and young author, and who enjoy unpredictable writing are those most likely to enjoy this novel.
Rating: Three-star (Recommended)
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