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Book of the Week: Swamplandia
Every week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors at O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. On sale today, a paperback that's required reading for anybody whose battled tragedy—without surrendering to the emotional monsters and muck. If you missed it in hardcover, please, please don't let it slip you by at the bookstore.
by Karen Russell
The genius plot: A 13-year-old girl tries to save her family's Florida alligator park while her sister communes with swamp ghosts and her brother works at the competing mega-attraction the World of Darkness.
The twist: Expect the heartbreaking and true, not just the wacky and possibly paranormal.
The riveting opening scene: "Mom swam...the entire length of the lake. People screamed and pointed whenever an alligator swam into the spotlight with her, a plump and switching tail cutting suddenly into its margarine wavelength, the spade of the monster's face jawing up at her side."
The moment that changes everything: "Hilola Jane Bigtree, world-class alligator wrestler, terrible cook, mother of three died in dryland hospital bed in West Davey on an overcast Wednesday March 10, at 3:12 p.m."
The bit of reptilian trivia we'll always remember: Alligators can run faster than Arabian horses on land.