Friday, January 20, 2012

Review: "St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves" by Karen Russell

Despite this not being as good as Swamplandia!,  it still is a great collection that showcases Russell’s fierce originality and vision, and in no way makes me think any less of this enormously talented writer. I take this book as being kind of an experiment in combing George Saunders’ wackiness with the kind of fantasy stories girls would read when they are children. They take fairy tale ideals, put them in a familiar setting, and throws very real and threatening adult dangers at its off the wall inhabitants. I think that is also why it kind of fell flat for me in some cases. It relies to heavily on its offbeat nature, and it is easy for someone who is not used to reading fantasy to lose details in reading, and even lose interest in the midst of one of the stories. All the stories have long titles, as if they are the names of attractions in a gimmicky and cheap amusement park. A few of my favorites include “Z. Z.’s Sleep-Away Camp for Disordered Dreamers” which has twins who share the same sleep problems in a camp investigating g the murder of a pet in a camp with many “disordered dreamer” such as bed-wetters, self mutilators, and those who think a demon is raping them. My favorite would have to be “The Star Gazer’s Log of Summer-Time Crime” which has a geeky kid falling into the wrong crowd, who plan on stealing turtle eggs. It has a weak ending, but is the closets out of all of these stories to connecting emotionally with the reader on a level of reality. That was the main problem with these stories; they lack emotional impact and try to make up for it in wacky creatures and magical realities. Luckily, Russell solved this with her brilliant first novel, and this is a must for fans of an extremely talented new writer.
Rating: 4/5

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