Hello and welcome to another round of the BBRBF Book Club! This month we read Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. As always, be sure to check out the other gals’ inspired outfits and reviews: Sara from In a Nutshell, Kristina from The Eyre Effect, Kat from The Miss Information Blog and Noelle from The Classy Junk!
What initially peaked my interest in this book was its location: the swamplands of Florida. Having grown up in southern Florida, I’m all too familiar with the kinds of creatures that lurk through the Everglades (and eventually make their way into your backyard). For some reason I felt this would allow me to instantly connect with the story.
But to be honest, I’m not sure that I connected with anything (or anyone) aside from the craziest character of them all: Osceola Bigtree.
The Bigtree family specializes in alligator wrestling and has built an entire theme park based on this skill. After the death of their main star/wife/mother Hilola Bigtree, their lives, and livelihood, begin to deteriorate.
Each member of the family deals with this loss in their own way. Chief Bigtree looses the ability to perform remedial tasks and abandons his children in order to get funding for the park. Kiwi, the oldest child and only son, runs away to the mainland in order to obtain a job, attend school and become the “hero” of Swamplandia!. Osceola, or Ossie, the middle daughter, claims that she can speak to ghosts and decides to elope with the spirit of a boy her age. Then there’s poor little Ava, the youngest child, who is determined to save her home with a red alligator that she’s raising, stop her sister from eloping to the Underworld, and eventually gets raped by a man she trusted to help her find Ossie.
I wasn’t able to finish this book due to it being finals season. The half of the book that I did read was enjoyable yet strange. I couldn’t help but feel that if I had lost my mother, which nearly happened last year due to Leukemia, I would lose touch with reality in the same way Ossie did. Don’t be mistaken, I don’t believe in ghost. The only thing that’s ever somewhat swayed my position on that subject is Ghost Adventures (yes, I watch that show, don’t judge). But losing a parent, especially at a young age, changes everything.
Ossie begins her journey towards the Underworld through a book called The Spiritist’s Telegraph, which is essentially a guide to channeling ghosts. She applies her otherworldly knowledge in the form of Ouija boards and spells. Eventually she makes contact with a young man named Louis Thanksgiving whose story, although sad, did not warrant an entire chapter. Ossie runs off, leaving Ava alone after the Chief and Kiwi have left for the mainland, to elope with Louis to the Underworld.
Having never finished the story, I was under the impression that Ossie would need to die in order to elope with Louis, but I was mistaken. Nonetheless, I drew my outfit inspiration from Ossie’s story and decided to present my interpretation of her as “The Swamp Queen of the Underworld.” I even attempted my first suicide roll in honor of, what I thought would be, Ossie’s demise. Perhaps I’ve been watching too much Beetlejuice…
For this look I paired my Cropped Cardigan in Olive Sage with my Pinup Couture Jenny Skirt in Black from Pinup Girl Clothing. In fact, even my belt is from PUG. My brooch, which fit perfectly into this outfit if I do say so myself, is a vintage puzzle piece from Tinsel Town Accessories.
All in all, I’m not sure if I will finish this book. I had every intention to until I peaked through a full synopsis of the plot and discovered that Ava gets taken advantage of physically. I honestly don’t think I can stomach reading about a 13 year old being raped. For those of you who have read the whole book, is it worth pushing through to the end?
Tune in next time for our review of Stardust by Neil Gaiman!