“Swamplandia!” by Karen Russell
Yeah, it was pretty perfect.
Much like this book.
One of three finalists for the Pulitzer, “Swamplandia!” is one of the hype books of the year. Literally, everyone everywhere has been telling me to read it. Having finished it, I can honestly say all the hype is worth it.
It’s a swampy tale of down-trodden people with murky secrets and goals. It’s the story of the Bigtree family, who run a tourist attraction called “Swamplandia!” which has fallen on hard times since the family matriarch has died. When the son goes off to save the family from the debt they’re under, and the father goes off to handle some business, teenage Osceola and pre-teen Ava are left to fend for themselves. Osceola, however, is in love with a ghost. This complicates things and soon all these well-written characters, and some others, are whirling toward a strangely beautiful conclusion that leaves things to the imagination and doesn’t wrap things up with an easy and colorful bow.
Ava is a great little heroine, who brings to mind a combination of Huck Finn, Scout Finch, Jo March and even the more recent Katniss Everdeen. She’s an alligator wrestler in training with an adventurous spirit and fierce family loyalty. Not everything that happens to her is pleasant, but she gets done what needs to be done and perseveres through it all. I won’t soon forget her.
Read it, people. This book deserves your time.
Word is that HBO has bought “Swamplandia!” to turn it into something — and I’m not surprised. Much like the sensational “True Blood,” this book is populated with swamp people and (potentially mystical) mysteries. It seems a logical choice to be filmed in some way, shape, or form.