By Karen Russell,

Book cover of Swamplandia!

Book description

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Swamplandia! as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Amusement parks, and the people who work in them have always had a fond place in my heart. Growing up at the Jersey Shore, some of my earliest memories are of the carnival rides and the games of chance on the Boardwalk. One of my first “real” jobs during high school was working in a candy store on the Boardwalk. With the front door open to let in the ocean breezes and the sound of happy screams from the arcade next door, not to mention as much free candy as I could eat, it was the best summer job ever.…

Swamplandia! is a wonderful intersection of nuanced relationships and place—this time the Florida coast (where I’ve also lived) and a family of alligator wrestlers (which I definitely haven’t done!). Not to give anything away, but there’s a scene near the end involving the protagonist, Ava, and the Bird Man, which is the most incredible moment I’ve ever read of a character realizing that their perception may not match reality.

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