Friday, May 13, 2011

Week 63: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

I loved, loved, loved this book. As most of you know, I'm not a frequent fiction reader, because I always feel that the truth is much more interesting - and stranger - than anything anyone could imagine. But Swamplandia! caught me by surprise.

Karen Russell's imagination seems to have no bounds. I love books that keep you wondering what's real and what's not, it is scary and frightening because you can't even be sure of what you just read. I'm still not sure of all of the symbols that she incorporated, there were so many awesome pieces to this book.

The story of the Bigtree clan, Swamplandia! theme park owners and alligator wrestlers, has an enormous amount of depth to it. Once Hilola, the mother of the three Bigtree children (Kiwi, Osceola, and Ava) Swamplandia!'s main attraction, dies of cancer, the rest of the family is left to figure out what to do next. They can't survive without her charisma, charm, and ability to draw large crowds of tourists. They're stuck.

The story winds from reality to fantasy and back again as the kids are left by their father, Chief Bigtree, to fend for themselves while he finds a way to save the park. What seems to be all fun and games turns into a wild ride from which none of them recover.

This was a long one but it kept me clueless until the end, I love those kinds of books. If it wasn't a library book, I would have read it twice to pick up all of the stuff I missed. (I'll make a note.)

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