Book Review: Florida

Florida by Lauren Groff

I picked up this book in the airport, thinking (mistakenly) that it was a book by another Florida author that I had heard about on NPR. What a happy accident! I was so taken by this collection of short stories by Lauren Groff. It has earned all kinds of awards and recognition, but somehow I missed it. Now I can’t wait to read her earlier, but equally acclaimed novel, Fates and Furies (2015).

I am not a good enough book reviewer to do this collection justice. I was blown away by her writing. It is spare and beautiful. She is stingy with the information she gives you, but you still can piece together a bigger picture as her stories unfold. (If you want to read a great review, click here for the one in The New Yorker.)

All the stories are connected to the author’s adopted state, which she refers to as “an Eden of dangerous things.” All of the them hint at but don’t center on strained familial relationships (husbands, parents, children) as the plots unfold; they all present a conflict between the characters and something in nature or the wild. Yet there seems to be a quiet celebration of love, domesticity, and acceptance in each story that works to combat whatever evils may lurk in the wilds of Florida (or France, where one of the stories takes place).

Groff also shares characters’ inner voices and psychological journeys in each story. Whether a character is battling a hurricane, homelessness, or abandonment, the author lets you in behind the eyes of the storytellers, and often (as in real life), what they see and experience is just a fragment of a bigger picture.

Review by Roberta Jordan, Outreach and Instruction Librarian.

To request a copy, click here.

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