I had read a few reviews on Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (Books Speak Volumes, Books are my Boyfriends) and finally received the digital copy from the library. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but I really enjoyed this novel.
Swamplandia! (and yes, the !!!!! is part of the title, which kills me, seriously, but I have to keep it to make this more authentic) is a book about an attraction off the coast of Florida on a small island. The Bigtree family runs this theme park, with attractions such as alligator wrestling and swimming with the alligators. The park is successful, until Hilola, the matriarch, dies of cancer and a new mainland theme park (focusing on the uplifting topic of death and hell) is driving the tourists away.
From there, the family falls apart. The Chief (AKA Dad) has no money to sustain Swamplandia! and has some crazy schemes with which to save it. Kiwi, the seventeen year old son, is fed up and decides to take actions into his own hands. Osceola, the sixteen year old daughter, becomes obsessed with a book on spirits and “dates” the dead.
The only sane one seems to be Ava, the youngest child, who has the main goal of keeping the family together. When the family seems to split apart, Ava and a stranger, the Bird Man, take a trip to help bring everyone together. But who is this Bird Man?
I really enjoyed reading Swamplandia! I’m from South Florida, so I can picture a lot of what is going on in this book. I also love Ava’s innocence as well as her persistence. She can be a tragic figure at times as well. Kiwi is going through such a tough time, trying to become a man on the mainland (as opposed to the secluded island) as well as save his family’s business. He’s a really great character as well. Very honest and hardworking, always thinking the best of everyone.
Should you read Swamplandia!? Yes, I think this is a great book to add to your to-read list!
Tell me about the time you wrestled an alligator!