- Published: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.
- Year Published: 2011
- Edition: 1st ed.
- Description: 315 p. ; 25 cm.
- Language: English
- Format: Book
- Girls -- Fiction.
- Mothers -- Fiction. -- Death
- Motherless families -- Fiction.
- Amusement parks -- Fiction.
- Alligators -- Fiction.
- Everglades (Fla.) -- Fiction.
- Ten Thousand Islands (Fla.) -- Fiction.
- Fantasy fiction.
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Where To Find It
Call number: Fiction
Available Copies: Downtown 1st Floor, Pittsfield Adult, Traverwood Adult
Twelve year old Ava must travel into the Underworld part of the swamp in order to save her family's dynasty of Bigtree alligator wresting. This novel takes us to the swamps of the Florida Everglades, and introduces us to Ava Bigtree, an unforgettable young heroine. The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator wrestling theme park, formerly no. 1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Ava's mother, the park's indomitable headliner, has just died; her sister, Ossie, has fallen in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, who may or may not be an actual ghost; and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, who dreams of becoming a scholar, has just defected to the World of Darkness in a last ditch effort to keep their family business from going under. Ava's father, affectionately known as Chief Bigtree, is AWOL; and that leaves Ava, a resourceful but terrified thirteen, to manage ninety eight gators as well as her own grief. Against a backdrop of hauntingly fecund plant life animated by ancient lizards and lawless hungers, the author has written a novel about a family's struggle to stay afloat in a world that is inexorably sinking.
Reviews & Summaries
One third to one half of the way in, the story splits off and we follow the girl's brother as he makes some of his own decisions. This is the only part of the book that actually held any interest to me, as him MAKING DECISIONS (and perhaps especially in the wildly unique-to-him environment of the "normal world") gave me something to pay attention to. But it wasn't enough to redeem the book.
I was really glad to be done with this.
But I will say that this is such an original story. You really sympathize with these characters, and you find yourself staying up way to late to read just one more chapter... and then another three.
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