Florida

Florida by Lauren Groff

The New York Times-bestselling author of Fates and Furies returns, bringing the reader into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild — a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. A family retreat can be derailed by a prowling panther, or by a sexual secret. Among those navigating this place are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters; a lonely boy, grown up; a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman; and an unforgettable, recurring character — a steely and conflicted wife and mother.

The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind — becomes its gravitational center: an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness, a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, rage, family, and the passage of time. With shocking accuracy and effect, she pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury — the moments that make us alive. Startling, precise, and affecting, Florida is a magnificent achievement.

Author: Lauren Groff | Publisher: Riverhead

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5/5

“Now a hunger that cannot quite be located in the body comes over her, a sense of yearning, for what? Maybe for kindness, for a moral sense that is clear and loud and greater that she is, something that can blanket her, no, no, something in which she can hide for a minute and be safe.”

This. Collection. Is. Masterful. I cannot overstate. Lauren Groff is unbelievable, and she does so much with so little in each of these stories.

Some are eerie, some are emotional, some are abstract, and all cut right to the core. I’m sure that many of the stories reflected Groff’s actual experiences, because there were several common themes, especially the simultaneous joy and guilt of motherhood.

I think my favorite story was the one that featured a woman who stayed in her home while a hurricane approached and then hit. During that time, she hallucinated (or imagined?) several key people from her past who still haunted her. It was incredible.

Drop what you’re doing and read this.

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