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St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
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St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  6,192 ratings  ·  1,093 reviews
A dazzling debut, a blazingly original voice: the ten stories in St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves introduce a radiant new talent.

In the collection's title story, a pack of girls raised by wolves are painstakingly reeducated by nuns. In 'Haunting Olivia,' two young boys make midnight trips to a boat graveyard in search of their dead sister, who set sail in the exo...more
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Knopf
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Community Reviews

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karen
first of all - greg- i lied to you. i told you that the conch shell story (the city of shells) was my favorite because i felt put on the spot and distracted, and that was the first one i thought of. but my real favorite story is the one on the boated retirement community (out to sea). god - i felt that one in my dessicated old heart-sac.

i really enjoyed this collection. the stories all contain wavery bits of the surreal - her style reminds me more of kelly link than george saunders, which compar...more
Nancy

Posted at Shelf Inflicted

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is an unusual collection of imaginative, quirky, moving, unsettling, and stylishly written stories featuring troubled children as they learn, grow, and make their way in the world. Their parents are flawed and dealing with their own issues as well, like the minotaur who moves his human family out west for a fresh start. While I enjoyed the majority of stories in this collection, I found they suffered from sameness and repetition...more
Greg
This collection of short stories was quite good.

I'm awful at writing reviews for short story collections, mostly because I'm too lazy or forgetful to jot down notes about the individual stories when I finish them, so the entire collection sort of becomes jumbled up in my head. These kind of fall into the George Saunders like style of writing, weird slightly off-kilter distortions of the real world, but unlike some of the George Saunders-esque writers out there is never the feeling that Karen Ru...more
sarah
Honestly, I just can't read this anymore. There were two stories left, but I had to put it down.

Individually, the stories in this volume are highly creative, heartbreaking and imaginative, but taken as a volume, the sheer similarities between all of the tales made me want to pull my hair out. Russell is obviously very talented, but I'd love to read something that isn't told from an overly precocious child's point of view, that doesn't end in medias res, and that doesn't involve strangely allego...more
oriana
The only reason this isn't a 5-star is that I hate short stories. Sorry, but I do. It just doesn't make sense to me -- either they're little bits of fluff that are quickly forgotten, or they're involved and interesting, and there is no reason for them to end.

The stories in this book are an example of the latter case. These stories are terrific! Karen Russel has an incredible command of language (she uses the word 'limn' in almost every story), and a fascinating imagination. The stories are haun...more
Stephen M
“The City of Shells closed to the visiting public over an hour ago. Now the boardwalk is deserted. Silent, except for the medleyed roar of the waves and the distant rumble of thunder. Gray, rain-bellied clouds are rolling in. Farther out, the sea is sluicing into night. There’s a hushed, tingly feeling in the air, as if the whole world is holding its breath. Only the silvery gulls dot the horizon. They peck at used condoms and empty Dorito bags with a salt-preened serenity.”

There are some author...more
Maciek
A pack of feral half-wolf girls raised by nuns in a foster home, a brother diving to find his little sister in a haunted cave, a family of minotaurs moving westward, two young girls living and growing up among alligators at an amusement park - all this and more awaits you in Karen Russell's debut collection of stories, published when she was just 25.

I have a bit of a crush on Karen Russell. Her stories are great - she has the rare combination of both imagination and talent, allowing her to creat...more
Kim
These stories are wonderfully creative, beautifully written, and make me very jealous of Karen Russell in general. So why the low rating? Because almost every single one of the stories ended too soon! I don't mean "ended sooner than I would have liked, and I'm sad that I can't stay with it longer" - well, that's actually true as well. But I mean "ended right as things were getting interesting, leaving everything not just unresolved but in fact disappointing and bewildering, since there was no re...more
Madeline
I am very, very jealous of Karen Russell. She got to study creative writing at Columbia, she made New York Magazine list of twenty-five people to watch under the age of twenty six (and she was twenty-five when this book was published), and she also happens to be really, really talented. I bet she's really cool and her apartment is awesome and she has lots of great shoes.

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (can I get that on a tshirt or something?) is a collection of short stories that mo...more
Brandy
On its own, each story in this collection is a treasure, in which children have minotaurs for fathers or hunt for the ghosts of siblings washed to sea in giant clamshell sleds. Russell's distinct voice shines through each piece, and coming across one of these in the magazines where they first appeared would be a genuine treat.

Unfortunately, the stories are weakened by being strung together. Russell writes in a distinct voice, but nearly every story is written in that same voice. Each story ends...more
Trin
Confession time: I think Kelly Link’s and Aimee Bender’s short stories are only okay. Occasionally one of their tales will astound me, but mostly I’m a bit “meh” on them—especially compared to how much many readers I respect love them. (Personally, I prefer Stacey Richter.) So when I say that Karen Russell’s short stories read like Link or Bender rejects, I hope you can see how faint an endorsement that is coming from me. Most of the stories in this collection feature young first person narrator...more
Sarah
First of all, Karen Russell wins the award for best story titles, hands down: Ava Wrestles the Alligator, ZZ's Sleep-Away Camp for Disordered Dreamers, the title story, etc. The prose crackles. Several of the stories take place on a very strange and well-imagined island full of Bizarroland tourist attractions, perhaps off of Florida. She skims the waters of magic realism with the tips of her wings; the titles and the stories are packed with dream imagery. All of which is stuff I love.

Why, then,...more
Troy Blackford
First off, I still really did enjoy this book. But there were some issues with it, and I think the amount of acclaim Karen Russell has received so far makes people nervous to voice them. This is a very evocative, imaginative, colorful, poetic book. I did enjoy it. But many times I wanted to stop reading in frustration.

Almost all of these stories are about kids whose parents run some kind of impossible themed attraction. Or have some kind of insane parents. Almost all of them end in what seems l...more
Elijah Kinch Spector
Karen Russell takes a lot of the trends that are popular in literary fiction and uses them right. Her stories are full of funny, hearbreaking, and strangely unique details without usually feeling too quirky for the sake of being quirky, and her stories weave the absurd into the every day in a way that feels right, instead of jarring (except when it's supposed to be jarring, naturally). I think that I would've liked each of these stories even more if I'd read them separately though, as together i...more
Hanne
"My older sister has entire kingdoms inside of her, and some of them are only accessible at certain seasons, in certain kinds of weather"
Let me tell you something: Karen Russell has entire kingdoms in her head too. Very imaginative and creative ones. I don't know whether she can always access them or only in certain kinds of weather; but rich imagination she most certainly has, that much i can confirm.

Some of the stories, perhaps even a little too much, and i just got lost in a plot, of which i...more
Sunday
I am so impressed by this whole surrealist-fable-modern-America thing. I feel like it's this studly guy I keep seeing at the library with like, shredded muscles that couldn't be perfecter. I'm not a real writer, but if I was, I would vom all over my computer and give up writing for life. Karen Russell is a 20-something graduate from Columbia that made the book you could make if you were PRO 4 LYF. She could die after writing these short stories and God would see it and It Would Be Good.

I'm so se...more
David
I'm about half-way through this collection of stories and so far they are hilarious. As offbeat as the title suggests, but very funny.

(added after finishing the book): Well, oddly enough, offbeat kind of wears thin after a while. So that, in the end, I give this collection only 3 stars. The cumulative effect of reading all these stories in a single week is a bit like being trapped in the funhouse - you emerge slightly dazed, and relieved to be back in normal territory. Although these stories wer...more
Paul
This is a book of short stories with abrupt and uncertain endings. I don't like short stories. I don't like abrupt and/or uncertain endings. I gave this book five stars. I guess that says something about the quality of Russell's writing.
Kurt
I was introduced to Karen Russell through a free Amazon Vine copy of Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories, and I was eager to find this earlier collection of her short stories. The level of surreality definitely did not disappoint, nor did the level of thoughtfulness and emotion. Russell's stories here are mostly set in a fictional region in Florida (with some exceptions, like an adventure story on a glacier), and although some tales make oblique references to others, each stands independently....more
Richard
A lot of sharp writing in here, phrases worth underlining and keeping separately in a notebook. And stories rightly worthy of acclaim. Russell creates characters who are just screaming at the world to find their places in it--places that just aren't there, so of course they have to make their own hovels, whether they are in giant shells or on the face of glaciers. Russell is probably one of the best writers about youth that I've read--many of her narrators are young boys, and she deftly avoids s...more
Richard
I'm the youngest kid in my family, but sometimes I wish I had a little sister like Scout from "To Kill a Mockingbird". My little sister would be my protege and fall under the auspices my protection. If I had a little sister I would chase off her teenage boy suitors with a baseball bat, I would take her to an ice cream parlor for dates and I would buy her this book. It seems like the sort of book a smart little sister would want to read: hip, cute, quirky, bold, featuring clever use of intertextu...more
Kathy Ahn
I was uncertain about it when I started, but I ended up really enjoying this little collection. My favorite piece is the title piece, "St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves", a wonderfully imaginative story about assimilation and etiquette for pre-pubescent to adolescent wolves as they move into the human world. It's full of some really humorous moments that made me laugh out loud, and instances of awkward growing pains that brought back memories of adolescence.

Most of the pieces are about...more
Megan
Whimsical, innovative, these magical-florida short stories capture that dreamy-woozy creepy gator feel of a floridian night. 'Florid' is an appropriate description: some of these stories felt overstuffed, with too many ten dollar words to slog through. Although her ambition is obvious, sometimes it got in the way of the story. That SAID, the last story (aka the title track) was darn near perfect. Too specific to be an allegory, it showed rather than told the ways in which we all end up becoming...more
Stephanie
St. Lucy' Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is a collection of short stories by Karen Russell. All of the stories have a hint of the supernatural. I'm not really sure how to review this although I liked it. It was a rather strange collection of characters and circumstances and I have to admit maybe some of it was over my head, literary stuff. I just know that I liked it and I may have a look at her other book, Swamplandia, which is a follow-up to one of the stories in this book.
Chris Blocker
Let me say straight out that I love Karen Russell’s use of language and her knack for creating these magical tales. St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is full of inventive and fun stories. Whether her characters are wrestling alligators or navigating giant conch shells or awkwardly watching women in Yeti costumes skate on ice with orangutans, it is easy to enjoy the imaginative images and play.

Initially, I loved this collection, but the further along I got into it, the more it became a ch...more
Wigs
Reading these short stories is like failed masturbation.

No, really.

You start, and things are going well, and you feel pretty good. But suddenly it’s over and there wasn’t even any climax and you just sit there unsatisfied.

And it happens every single time. It seems like her formula, each short story is unfinished and each time it gets a little more annoying because you know that’s what’s going to happen. The one exception is the final story, which happens to be the title of the book, and I very...more
Aerin
I came across this book during a grab-Starbucks-browse-Barnes&Noble getaway from my children. An hour of drifting through the aisles, jotting titles to add to my Paperback Swap wishlist, sipping a hot espresso truffle – heaven.

St. Lucy’s was sitting face-out on the shelf, and for better or for worse, I am drawn to books that I judge by their covers. This one features the illustration of a little girl in a white and red pinafore riding the back of a shaggy brown wolf. The girl’s pudgy pink h...more
Drew
This seems to be a slightly unpopular opinion, I'm discovering - but I adore Karen Russell's work. I had some issues with Swamplandia! but that book has stuck with me far longer than it had any right to, perhaps because it forced me to feel so strangely. But Ms. Russell's first book of short stories is incredible. None of them quite resolve and instead ring out like tones echoing through a church long after the organ has ceased to sound. They are all, even the most mundane ones, quite fantastica...more
Jenny
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...more
Andrew Neal
Each story in this book was well written, but they were all exactly the same: main character is a weird kid (except in the case where he is an old man in a rest home and therefore as helpless and childlike as the kids in the other stories) + the kid observes everything in a very clever, mature voice which is absolutely nothing like a child's voice + characters have funny names + family problems + strange setting (giant conch shell theme park/orangutan ice skating arena/retirement community on bo...more
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Books you have come to from PRI 1 24 Aug 13, 2012 04:20PM  
Endicott Mythic F...: St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves: Stories - Discussion 15 44 Mar 30, 2012 05:20AM  
Ask Karen Russell: The value of the short story. 1 65 Sep 13, 2011 08:06AM  
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Karen Russell graduated from Columbia University's MFA program in 2006. Her stories have been featured in The Best American Short Stories, Conjunctions, Granta, The New Yorker, Oxford American, and Zoetrope. Her first book of short stories, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, was published in September 2006. In November 2009, she was named a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree. I...more
More about Karen Russell...
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“My older sister has entire kingdoms inside of her, and some of them are only accessible at certain seasons, in certain kinds of weather.” 34 likes
“My older sister has entire kingdoms inside of her, and some of them are only accessible at certain seasons, in certain kinds of weather. One such melting occurs in summer rain, at midnight, during the vine-green breathing time right before sleep. You have to ask the right question, throw the right rope bridge, to get there-and then bolt across the chasm between you, before your bridge collapses.” 15 likes
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