Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard

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Decidedly odd characters emerge in eight autobiographical essays...An intimate journey reveals a Florida few visitors would ever discover.


Paris Review Staff Pick • A Chicago Tribune Exciting Book for 2017 • A Rolling Stone Culture Index Reccomendation • A Buzzfeed Most Exciting Book for 2017 • A The Millions Great 2017 Preview Pick• A Huffington Post 2017 Preview Pick • NYLON Best 10 Books of the Month •  A PW Spring 2017 Top 10 Pick in Essays & Literary Criticism • A Lit Hub 15 Books to Read This Month

“One of the themes of ‘Sunshine State,’ Sarah Gerard’s striking book of essays, is how Florida can unmoor you and make you reach for shoddy, off-the-shelf solutions to your psychic unease…. The first essay is a knockout, a lurid red heart wrapped in barbed wire.... This essay draws blood.”   — Dwight Garner, New York Times

"Stunning."   — Rolling Stone

"Unflinchingly candid memoir bolstered by thoughtfully researched history…. A nuanced and subtly intimate mosaic… her writing, lucid yet atmospheric, takes on a timeless ebb and flow.”   — Jason Heller,

“Gerard’s prose is unlabored, flatly observational, and the interwoven mini stories are at once tender and cold, exhilarating and regrettable—each undermining the one that precedes it.”   — Nicole Rudick, Paris Review

“Brave, keenly observational, and humanitarian…. Gerard’s collection leaves an indelible impression.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“These large-hearted, meticulous essays offer an uncanny x-ray of our national psyche...  showing us both the grand beauty of our American dreams and the heartbreaking devastation they wreak.”  — Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You

Sarah Gerard follows her breakout novel, Binary Star, with the dynamic essay collection Sunshine State, which explores Florida as a microcosm of the most pressing economic and environmental perils haunting our society.

In the collection’s title essay, Gerard volunteers at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, a world renowned bird refuge.  There she meets its founder, who once modeled with a pelican on his arm for a Dewar’s Scotch campaign but has since declined into a pit of fraud and madness. He becomes our embezzling protagonist whose tales about the birds he “rescues” never quite add up. Gerard’s personal stories are no less eerie or poignant: An essay that begins as a look at Gerard’s first relationship becomes a heart-wrenching exploration of acquaintance rape and consent. An account of intimate female friendship pivots midway through, morphing into a meditation on jealousy and class.

With the personal insight of The Empathy Exams, the societal exposal of Nickel and Dimed, and the stylistic innovation and intensity of her own break-out debut novel Binary Star, Sarah Gerard’s Sunshine State uses the intimately personal to unearth the deep reservoirs of humanity buried in the corners of our world often hardest to face. 


About Sarah Gerard

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Sarah Gerard's work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine's "The Cut", Paris Review Daily, Slice Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Bookforum, and other journals. She is the author of the chapbook Things I Told My Mother and a graduate of The New School's MFA program for fiction.
Published April 11, 2017 by Harper Perennial. 384 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Literature & Fiction, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Above average
on Feb 02 2017

Decidedly odd characters emerge in eight autobiographical essays...An intimate journey reveals a Florida few visitors would ever discover.

Read Full Review of Sunshine State: Essays | See more reviews from Kirkus


Reviewed by Jason Heller on Apr 13 2017

Sunshine State is not a glowing encomium of Florida, nor is it a snarky takedown. Instead, it's a drifting, psychogeographical exploration of a place she once called home — and that, in return, has come to live inside her.

Read Full Review of Sunshine State: Essays | See more reviews from NPR

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