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Sometimes I do judge a book by its cover so I resisted reading Swamplandia! until I saw it was chosen by The New York Times as one of the best ten books of 2011. Although swamps and alligators may not appeal to you either, this book is definitely worth the read. The sheer joy of reading Russell's use of language in her debut novel would be enough. I loved sentences like "A small black desk looked so weak that I didn't even like to rest my eyes on it." or "The river became a looking glass for the stars." The book contains history, mystery, danger, fantasy, humor, pain, and love. Mostly, it is a story of family loyalty and the imperfections of the characters, including Chief Bigtree, self-named and head of the family, Hilola, mother and alligator wrestler, Grandpa Sawtooth who bites and lives on a nursing home boat, Kiwi, brilliant but socially inept brother, Ossie, sister who falls in love with the Dredgeman, and Ava, a determined thirteen year old alligator wrestler. It's a story told by Ava that I will long remember.