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“Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into a lush and bravely imagined debut that takes us to the shimmering edge of reality.”

So this book was sitting next to Love Anthony and I almost bought it. I visited it in the book store every couple of days. I liked this one much more though.

This book follows three kids as they try to handle their mother’s death from cancer and their family losing their home. They live on an island and amusement park that centers around Seths (what they call alligators). Ava is the main character and most of the story is focused around her.

Her father leaves and gets a job on the mainland trying to get them enough money to buy new alligators which will help them save their home. Her older brother runs off to the competing amusement park where he tries to go to school at the same time. Her older sister runs off because she falls in love with a ghost (the ghost does not love the sister).

Ava attempts to keep her family together and find her sister before her father comes home from the mainland. She ends up teaming up with a birdman (a man who is the pied piper of birds). Birdman takes her around and plays to her story of knowing where Hell opens up and where the ghost would have taken her. In the course of that he rapes Ava. OF COURSE THE FEMALE CHARACTER GETS RAPED. Why is rape such a plot device? I expected better from a female author, but I was disappointed.

The plot was awesome, but ugh I can’t get over using a horrific event like rape to move the plot forward.


4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.

You can buy this book here.