I’ve really enjoyed this book, though it left somethings unfinished. I’m looking forward to reading more from Russell in the future. Check it out:
Swamplandia! follows the Bigtree family after the death of Hilola Bigtree, the family’s mother. They’re drowning in debt, business has died, and the three children–Kiwi, Ossie, and Ava–are all falling into a lonely individualism.
- The descriptions in this book are beautiful and detailed.
- Relationships between characters and the swamp are fleshed out and intimate.
- The timelines reflect a very poigniant aspect of our society: family structure in the face of death and debt.
Things left to be desired:
- There is not a clear connection between events and the plot
- Karen does not explore Ossie’s timeline. Ossie believes she is talking to ghosts and seems to be mentally ill. Though she says that her adventures into the swamp were dangerous and exciting, we don’t get to see that. We don’t get to see her develop either.
- I was a bit shocked that Ava is, essentially, led to believe that by talking about her assault in the swamp that she would harm the tenuous balance her family is reached. As far as we know, she takes it to her grave. For a girl who couldn’t seem to keep anything secret, this is a heavy one for Russell to have her keep.
You can also find interviews with Karen Russell about Swamplandia! on NPR.