Faced with both her hot-tempered father’s fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.
Hushpuppy, an intrepid six-year-old girl, lives with her father, Wink, in the Bathtub, a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. Wink’s tough love prepares her for the unraveling of the universe; for a time when he’s no longer there to protect her. When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack, temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. With the waters rising, the aurochs coming, and Wink’s health fading, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother.
Six year old Hushpuppy and her single father, Wink, have a unique relationship and existence. They live in a small community coined The Bathtub located in the Mississippi River delta, The Bathtub which has been physically isolated from the rest of the world ever since the building of the levee upstream. Wink and the other adults in The Bathtub have a protective attitude toward their community. Everyone in The Bathtub knows that the community is under threat of being submerged if a big storm hits or with climate change melting the ice caps resulting in a rising sea level, but they refuse to leave regardless. Hushpuppy and Wink live on a sprawling and seemingly disorganized, rundown and overgrown piece of property off of which they raise animals for food. Father and daughter live in separate raised structures on the property. Despite loving each other, Hushpuppy and Wink have a relationship that is often punctuated by arguments and altercations, sometimes physical. Hushpuppy has a combination of outlooks on life. Some of it is highly fantasized, such as the way she views her absent biological mother solely from the stories told to her by Wink, Hushpuppy who has no remembrance of her directly, or her thoughts of aurochs being released from the melting icecaps – as told to her and the other children by their teacher, holistically minded Miss Bathsheba – only eventually to invade their community. And some of it is wise beyond her years, such as her belief that she is just a small cog in the universe, within which all those small cogs are somehow interrelated. When a big storm does hit the region, Wink, Hushpuppy and the other residents of The Bathtub who decide to stay have to figure out how to survive. What does happen is affected by a secret Wink is keeping from his daughter, something she, with her eyes somewhat wide open, may be able to see but not fully comprehend.