cover image Through the Groves

Through the Groves

Anne Hull. Holt, $26.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-80509-337-7

Pulitzer-winning journalist Hull recounts her Florida upbringing in this entrancing coming-out and coming-of-age memoir. She begins in 1967, as her parents’ marriage crumbled along with her father’s mental health. Soon, Hull’s mother moved Hull and her siblings from the sleepy town of Sebring to St. Petersburg, where Hull vividly conjures the “apocalyptic signage” lining State Road 60, a talking mermaid display at “the World’s Most Unusual Drug Store,” the exotic clutter of her Grandma Damie’s house, and the severe nuns at her Catholic school. She paints a masterful, full-fleshed portrait of the Florida of her youth, facing down its racism by detailing the segregated “Black Sebring” neighborhood across the tracks from her childhood home that “felt like a separate town,” and unpacking her distaste for the gender expectations foisted upon her by her conservative grandma Gigi and her namesake, Aunt Anne, while Hull was still in the closet. As she recounts coming to understand her sexuality and planning her escape from Florida in the process, Hull dispatches invaluable insights into Deep South culture and Cold War–era gender politics, but they sometimes come at the expense of her personal story. Still, this is a stirring account of growing up at odds with one’s environment and making it out on the other side. (June)