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St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Vintage Contemporaries) by [Russell, Karen]
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St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Vintage Contemporaries) Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 109 customer reviews

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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.

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

Product Details

  • File Size: 241 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307276678
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (August 14, 2007)
  • Publication Date: August 14, 2007
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000UWW858
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,491 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By A Customer 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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't think anything captures the feeling of the painful period between childhood and adolescence as well as Karen Russell's anthology St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. These dark, eldritch short stories tell the tales of children who get trapped in a city of giant seashells, follow the Oregon Trail with their minotaur parents, and attend a summer camp for insomniacs.
This anthology was Karen Russell's authorial debut, which is a rather striking achievement, considering that she was only 25 when it was published and that it won her attention from the National Book Foundation. One of the stories in this book, "Ava Wrestles the Alligator," was the basis of Russell's 2011 novel Swamplandia!, which was named one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times and won her a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize. Now is the perfect time to read this first anthology, as her next collection of short stories, Vampires in the Lemon Grove, is set for release next month.
There are some noticeable patterns among these stories--they tend to feature a young protagonist between the ages of 11-15 who is alienated from any parental influence and plunged into a bizarre scenario. This protagonist generally begins the story feeling lonely and haunted and ends feeling doubly so. One can easily forgive Russell for whatever elements of formula she may use, though. She more than makes up for it with her masterfully resonant voice and compellingly surreal settings. While the emotions in these tales are perfectly true to life, the scenarios they take place in have an eerily dreamlike quality. This collection is the perfect thing to read before going to bed, if you won't be too unnerved to sleep.
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