Meet the Bigtree alligator wrestling tribe of Swamplandia! Florida. The Chief is the master planner of this Southern Florida attraction. His wife Hilola has just died from cancer and their children are coping the best they know how. Their oldest Kiwi is rebelling against life as he knows it, Osceola has begun communing with ghosts while Ava is planning on saving the park and taking her mother's place as the headliner of the show. But the park is failing, people stop coming and the bills are mounting. What is a family to do?
This family is as messed up as they come. The children have never been to public school and are woefully socially inept. The father lives inside his own mind and doesn't recognize reality needs some serious attention. Kiwi leaves to work at a place that feels like Disney gone wrong, Osceola thinks a ghost wants to marry her and disappears one night into the swamp. Ava seems to be the only normal one but falls into a dream world where she can make everything good again. Not a happy book. There is some gorgeous writing and descriptions of Florida that take your breath away. A serious and dogged literary read.
Reading connections: The Family Fang: A Novel by Kevin Wilson, Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides