cover image Sunshine State: Essays

Sunshine State: Essays

Sarah Gerard. Harper Perennial, $15.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-243487-6

Brave, keenly observational, and humanitarian, Gerard’s (Binary Star) collection of essays illuminates the stark realities of Florida’s Gulf Coast. With a mixture of investigative journalism and firsthand experience, she brings to life outspoken zealots, hopeless romantics, and escapist youth. She describes the hunger of Christian Scientists for earthly and spiritual wellness, Amway members for self-determined success, adolescents for reckless euphoria, testosterone-flooded males for dominance, and the underprivileged for nothing more than adequate housing and shelter. Gerard is a virtuoso of language, which in her hands is precise, unlabored, and quietly wrought with emotion. As evinced by the extensive bibliography and endnotes, she is also a very diligent journalist. To some, her thorough analyses of flawed legislation, business, religion, and literary journalism may feel long-winded at times, but readers interested in those topics will be fascinated. The chapters that will reach any reader are her deeply sad yet valiant personal essays on youth and death. Gerard’s collection leaves an indelible impression. Fans of literary nonfiction and dark reverie will welcome it. (Apr.)