Sunday, April 8, 2012

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

by Karen Russell

I was gifted this book by an absolutely fabulous friend of mine, when I went to visit her last October. Technically, I have been reading this book since she handed it to me... but since it's a collection of short stories, that doesn't make me feel bad. Russell was widely recognized for this work, and has since written a full length novel based on one of the ten short stories featured within these pages. Most of the stories take place in an island community, but she introduces bizarre, and sometimes creepy, characters (ghosts, minotaurs, wolf girls... you know, the usual). While I was expecting something unusual in Russell's writing, I was surprised by the haunting endings of almost every single story. Almost every story in this collection left me feeling unsettled (and slightly awkward) at the end. My favorite stories include "Haunting Olivia" (where 2 brothers search the ocean for the ghost of their little sister who washed out to sea in a clamshell), and "Out to Sea" (about a retired man living in a houseboat community & his young kleptomaniac "buddy"). St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is not a collection the reader can simply rush through, but should be read slowly, so as to appreciate the full impact of each individual story (and not all of them simply strung together).