Sunshine State by Sara Gerard

30653587

“Every day. Bob’s parent’s sued people- the city, other motorists, etc.- for a living.”

Essays, memoir, environmental… all these things make up this collection. BFF is a fantastic choice to start the book. It’s a raw, brutal bloodletting on friendship. It’s a give and take, it’s envy and love, it’s everything crazy, young girls are made of- it’s not sugar and spice my friends. Florida grown myself, having left, lived in other countries and traveled, I too have left people behind. The Florida I returned to is never the same one I left. It is a strange world made up of transplants (people) and fierce creatures that are like throwbacks from the prehistoric age. Reading about the cult like spiritual community her parents fell into for a spell, I too scratched my head in wonder as to why they fell for it? But then, why do we fall for anything? I vaguely remember hearing murmurings in my youth about Christian Science, as much as mystery to me then as Scientology is now and how the heck are the two the same and different? My knowledge, both have roots in Clearwater, Florida. Again, you can’t live in Florida and not hear rumors or stories about both. This up close account is enthralling, and people get a high from their beliefs. Everything has something positive, why else do people turn to it?

Then her parents get involved with Amway, and they’re prey to hope, seduced by a better life.  Which got me thinking about a friend of mine and her parents getting involved with some Malacca selling scheme in the late 80’s, but that’s another story. This is one of the strangest collections I’ve read. It’s not that Gerard is strange, just life, particularly here in the Sunshine State. The bad girl high school years, her drug and alcohol didn’t ruin her as it does other kids, which makes warnings sort of fall flat doesn’t it? Some people still come out of the muck of such things unscathed, it seems. Makes those after school specials a bit suspect eh? But friends, it’s not just a Florida thing. Drugs are in all corners of this country.

The part of the book dealing with substance abuse and homelessness is eye-opening. Painfully so. Safe Harbor and the many people waiting for disability bouncing from shelter to shelter is like a nightmare to someone like me, whose never gone hungry nor lived on the streets. Reading about the sort of women that end up in shelters… victims mostly sat with me for sometime. The Sunshine State is about a sanctuary gone awry, as best intentions often do. Ralph seems a strange, fascinating bird himself. How does hoarding come into it? Read on…

Aside from BFF I adored her writing on Rabbit about her grandparents and her husbands own medical struggles. Again the Velveteen Rabbit appears in my reading… it’s beautiful, just the very pacts made. This collection is strange, just as life is. A talent to watch!

Available April 11, 2017

Harper Collins

 

 

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