#CBR4 Review #19: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

4 Apr

Swamplandia! is the story of a family who, after the death of their mother, struggles to keep their family together and their long running alligator tourist attraction.  When the three siblings, Ava, Ossie, and Kiwi, all get separated, Russell’s magical prose tells the epic story of how they reunite and move on.

Karen Russell’s first novel offers three elements that make it worth reading.  First, the setting. A family run alligator farm in the swamps of Florida. The descriptions are brilliant; of the alligator wrestling, of their recently deceased mother’s nightly shows, of the birth of a red alligator, of the tourists that come streaming through their park. It’s almost magical, although the book is mostly grounded in the real world.

Second, Ava. Ava is the youngest child in the family, struggling to save the family’s alligator park because she desperately wants to keep her family together and their traditions alive. The way she identifies with the alligators, the way she wants to mimic her mother in every way, the way she believes in her sister’s elaborate ghost stories.

Third, Kiwi. Kiwi is the oldest, the brother of the family, who leaves for the mainland to struggle to support his family and pay off their mounting debts. Working for their competitor, he accidentally falls into his fifteen minutes of fame. But he also struggles with his expectations for his life versus the reality; his inability to prove his genius, his inexplicable ability to save others.

Overall, a worthwhile read!


3 Responses to “#CBR4 Review #19: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell”


  1. HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #19: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell « Cannonball Read IV - April 4, 2012

    […] More…! Share this:ShareTwitterFacebookEmailDiggStumbleUpon Posted by hellokatieo in 4 stars – a great book and tagged family novels, Florida, hellokatieo, Karen Russell, magical, Swamplandia! […]

  2. Cannonball Read IV Reviews of Note: Dystopian Red Lobster - April 6, 2012

    […] World Famous Bigtree alligator-wrestling clan, has problems. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (also my review here) Cancel […]

  3. 2012 Pulitzer Prize Finalists « Book It. - April 19, 2012

    […] Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, available on Amazon, Kindle and Nook. […]

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