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St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – August 14, 2007


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St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Vintage Contemporaries) + Vampires in the Lemon Grove: And Other Stories (Vintage Contemporaries) + Swamplandia! (Vintage Contemporaries)
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (August 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307276678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307276674
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A series of upbeat, sentimental fables, the 10 stories of Russell's debut are set in an enchanted version of North America and narrated by articulate, emotionally precocious children from dysfunctional households. Each merges the satirical spirit of George Saunders with the sophisticated whimsy of recent animated Hollywood film. In "Ava Wrestles the Alligator," a motherless girl, "staying in Grandpa Sawtooth's old house until our father, Chief Bigtree, gets back from the Mainland," struggles to understand her big sister's blooming sexuality, which seems to grow scaly and incarnate. Timothy Sparrow and Waldo Swallow Heartland, the two brothers of "Haunting Olivia," search for their sister's ghost near Gannon's Boat Graveyard using a pair of magic swimming goggles. In the title story, the human daughters of werewolves are socialized into polite society. Russell has powers of description and mimicry reminiscent of Jonathan Safron Foer ("My father, the Minotaur, is more obdurate than any man," begins "Children's Reminiscences of the Westward Migration"), and her macabre fantasies structurally evoke great Southern writers like Flannery O'Connor. If, at 24, Russell hasn't quite found a theme beyond growing up is hard to do (especially if you're a wolf girl), her assorted siblings are rendered with winning flair as they gambol, perilously and charmingly, toward adulthood. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Russell's short stories, some of which have been published in the New Yorker and other journals, have already generated widespread attention, as has her youth: at 24, she's been included in New York magazine's list of "25 under 25 to Watch." This unusual, haunting collection confirms that the hype is well deserved. Like the individuals in Gina Oschner's stories (People I Wanted to Be, 2005), Russell's characters are caught between overlapping worlds--living and dead, primal and civilized, animal and human--and the adolescent narrators are neither children nor adults. Even the settings, the murky swamps and coasts of the Florida Everglades, reinforce the sense of wild impermanence. In "Haunting Olivia," two brothers spend their nights diving in search of their drowned sister's ghost ("Then what? Do we Genie-in-the-bottle her?" one brother asks). The title story, about the daughters of werewolves who are sent to boarding school to learn human behavior, is unforgettable. Russell writes even the smallest details with audacious, witty precision: an acne-plagued kid's face is a "pituitary horror, a patchwork of runny sores and sebaceous dips." And her scenes deftly balance mythology and the gleeful absurdity of Monty Python with a darker urgency to acknowledge the ancient, the infinite, and the inadequacies of being human: "Marooned in a clumsy body . . . I'm an imposter, an imperfect monster," says a young diver among silvery, streamlined fish. Original and astonishing, joyful and unsettling, these are stories that will stay with readers. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

When you're reading a Karen Russell story, it becomes very quickly obvious that you're in the hands of a master.
Robert Beveridge
Overall a great read, though, and I will be interested to read her first book, Swamplandia, to see where she takes these bizarre impulses.
Leah Kaminsky
In this case, not only did these stories end before you wanted them to, but they ended just as the big climax was about to happen.
M. Palasik

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Karen Russell, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Knopf, 2006)

I was reading along in Karen Russell's debut volume of short stories, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, and I was pretty sure it was going to get an excellent review. I figured it would flirt with inclusion in my Best Reads of 2007 list. Then I read "Out to Sea." Not only is this book a shoo-in for the Best List-- a pretty amazing feat for a book I read in the first two weeks of the year-- but I'm reasonably confident in saying it's got a shot at the overall title, and I can say with great confidence that Karen Russell made a devoted lifelong fan with that story, a masterpiece of emotional wordplay and controlled eroticism. (The story that follows it, "Accident Brief, #00/422," takes the exact opposite tack to the same basic destination, giving us a laugh-out-loud funny narrator who injects moments of such hopeless despair that the reader will find himself stopping laughing, instantly and uncomfortably, on an alarmingly regular basis.) Ben Marcus, in one of the blurbs on the back cover, says "This book is a miracle.", and I am inclined to agree with him.

It would be easy, if a touch simplistic, to pigeonhole Russell's stories in the magical realism genre. All the hallmarks are there-- normal (well, kind of) people, real (or at least plausible) places, supernatural (or are they, really?) events. So, yeah. Lots of qualifiers there. Borges/Marquez/Murakami/Hoffman/et al. would recognize Russell on sight, but less as a daughter than as a second cousin once removed. The same could be said of any genre where one might fit Russell's work; it seems to be a new beast all its own.

Genre, however, is not as important as skill, and Russell is an immensely skilled writer.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Karen A. Bruce on December 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
For the most part, the stories in this collection read like incomplete fragments of better, richer tales. It felt like Russell set up interesting situations and introduced intriguing characters only to end the story before doing anything with them. The endings felt as if pages of the manuscript had simply been lost, instead of the openness being used to achieve an effect. Yes, stories do not need a neat ending; Katherine Mansfield's works prove that beautifully. However, that's very different to simply truncating the narrative arbitrarily and hoping it will be suitably postmodern, which seemed to be the case here.

The one exception is the title story, which is quite stunning and worth reading by itself. It isn't worth the price of the book, though, so get the collection from your local library and skip to the end.
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on September 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
These are ten delightful fables that star young heroes and heroines living in an offbeat magical Florida Everglades. The irony behind the uplifting tales is that they involve growing up to face reality yet still retain the magical environs of childhood while on the verge of losing their youthful enthusiasm forever. Each contribution is haunting (not just Olivia's tale) and satirical as Karen Russell brings out the inspirational "I won't Grow Up" from Peter Pan while having to pretend to have grown up; albeit what are girls who just want to have fun raised by wolves but now left with nuns to do except to fake assimilation. Whether one searches for a dead sister using enchanted goggles or has a Minatare as a dad, ST. LUCY'S HOME FOR GIRLS RAISED BY WOLVES: AND OTHER STORIES is a fun compilation that cleverly lampoons adult solutions to children's problems by sending them to their room in this case a camp for troubled sleepers.

Harriet Klausner
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By AmyofOK on November 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Many of the stories in this book are interesting -- at first. Then they just end abruptly -- no payoff, no closure. There is something to be said for an open ending -- but when an entire collection of short stories end that way, it is frustrating for the reader. It also leads one to believe that the author was not pushing herself hard enough (This is not a swipe at the author, just a reader's observation). I finally became bored with the format and disappointed with the stories.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on February 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Russell is a talented writer, whose stories are creative, imaginitive,and often times fun. However, as many reviewers have mentioned, frequently - all too frequently - there is no resolution, they simply end, as if to say,"well, that's it - time for another story."

The setting of many of her tales - the woods of south Florida and the south in general - were vivid, and were an element that I particularly liked. I enjoyed her characters and the unpredictable and slighly supernatural events they found themselves in. But I could never get used to the abrupt ending of her stories. I really wanted to like this book, but I can only give it 3 stars.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By jenny again on April 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Russell has massive amounts of talent, evidenced by these magical tale spun out of the simplest beginnings: an underwater search for a dead sister using ghost-spying goggles, an island attraction of empty giant conch shells that play eerie music when the wind is up, a pack of were-girls given by their parents to nuns for a chance at a better life. All ten short stories weave elements of the real and the bizarre as if it were perfectly normal, and in this brilliant mirror the absurdities of real life are given new perspective. I was completely captivated and made to rethink what I take for granted as normal versus what I think of as alien. Sheer genius.
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