Lisa Says… Read This Book by Karen Russell
By Lisa Hamilton
by Karen Russell
When the Pulitzer committee decided not to award a prize for fiction this year, it passed over a finalist, Karen Russell’s novel, Swamplandia! The book does indeed have great brilliance, and how could you live in this area and not be intrigued by a story about a family who owns an alligator theme park?
Ava Bigtree is the appealing 13 year-old narrator who lost her mother to ovarian cancer in the past year. Her quirky sister, Osceola, and her academically unchallenged brother, Kiwi, are also as heartbroken as their father Chief Bigtree. The Bigtrees originated from Ohio and fabricated the Native American heritage to go along with their life of survival and adventure in a theme park where the family would swim and wrestle alligators. When Ava is left behind as her sister leaves home for a life with the Dredgeman, and her brother goes to work for a rival theme park, it is left to Ava to save the family from a relentlessly sinking world.
Russell is obviously extremely talented in her storytelling and weaves a beautifully written adventure. Part of the magic of Swamplandia! is that this family believes in a spirit world or ghosts, so to speak. You may, too, by the book’s end as you feel the invisible pull of darkness in the land of the swamps.
About this writer
- A native South Carolinian, Lisa Hamilton is the director of the First Presbyterian Church Preschool and Kindergarten. Of course she loves reading, but also finds time for cooking and walking her dog, Hurley.