Currently Reading: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

Gators and Adventure in Swamplandia!

I picked Swamplandia! up at a book sale recently. The cover caught my eye first, but then I saw that the novel was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Both things made me curious, so it became my first read of my summer break.

What I love about this book so far is that it is unlike anything I have ever read before. For starters, the setting is entirely unique. The protagonist, Ava Bigtree, lives on an island in Florida with her “alligator wrestling dynasty family.” They own a gator theme park called Swamplandia!, which is pretty successful, until her mother dies of cancer and the family starts to unravel.

Ava sets off to try and save their failing theme park while dealing with a dad who won’t accept the reality of what is happening to his park or his family, and two siblings with issues of their own.

The world that Russell creates is interesting. Since Ava has lived on this island that is only accessible by boat all her life, she doesn’t understand a lot of life’s realities beyond Swamplandia! Everything seems to border along fantasy and reality, and how the characters won’t accept what is right in front of them.

The prose is very well-written. I’m looking forward to reading this by the pool and finding out what happens to Ava and the Bigtree family.

What else should I read this summer? Comment below for suggestions!

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