The other Power Animals and I love reading young adult fiction, especially stories about strong, confident, teenage heroines. What’s not to love about bold teenage girls fighting against dystopian societies like Katniss in The Hunger Games or Cassia in Matched? In Swamplandia! Karen Russell brings the teenage heroine to adult fiction with her smart, brave, thirteen-year-old narrator Ava Bigtree. Ava, her older sister, and older brother live on a small Florida island running a tourist attraction called Swamplandia!, where they lead swamp tours and wrestle alligators. Ava’s world is turned upside down after the death of her mother and the financial collapse of Swamplandia!. Ava’s tale is a coming of age story full of fanciful and supernatural elements that takes the bold amateur alligator wrestler on a long voyage to the swampland underworld in search of her sister, Ossie, who has eloped with her ghost boyfriend. Like those of the many teenage heroines who came before her, Ava’s odyssey marvels the adult female reader – like me! – who can’t imagine her teenage self facing and conquering such great adversity. Swamplandia! is a must read for all grown up women who still remember what it was like to be a teenager.
You can get Swamplandia! from Amazon or your local independent bookstore.