Summary and book reviews of Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard

Sunshine State

Essays

by Sarah Gerard

Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard X
Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2017, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2017, 384 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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.

A Chicago Tribune Exciting Book for 2017
A Buzzfeed Most Exciting Book for 2017
A The Millions Great 2017 Preview Book
A Huffington Post Nonfiction Book by a Woman to Read This Year
A PW Spring 2017 Top 10 in Essays & Literary Criticism

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. 

Sunshine State

Characters in the following story are presenting their own versions of events and do not necessarily reflect the truth, which we may never know. Some names have been changed to protect anonymity.

The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary sits hidden behind a bank of palms on a curve in Gulf Boulevard, which follows a strip of barrier islands from the top to the bottom of Pinellas County, Florida. The curve marks the place where Redington Shores stops and Indian Shores begins. Pastel-colored luxury hotels and salty stilt houses flank the sanctuary, and a giant fiberglass pelican marks its entrance, its paint chipped and faded from the sun. Next to the pelican a rainbow flag reads "OPEN."

Growing up in Pinellas County, I visited the sanctuary many times as a child. I remembered it being a place of encounters—with strange species, with wild instincts. Standing in the faintly shit-scented gift shop on my first day as a volunteer, I told the coordinator, Adrianne Beitl, that I'...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Most of the essays are quite long, and it may be that readers will struggle to sustain their interest in some of the topics if they don't have a personal connection to match Gerard's. For that reason, I preferred the purely autobiographical pieces to the ones that draw on historical movements. In every case, though, Gerard delves deep into place and history to figure out how she became the person she is now. I recommend these essays to nonfiction readers who like to do the same in their own lives: look back to ask the big questions of where and how they got to where they are today...continued

Full Review (797 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).

Media Reviews

Library Journal
Writers and regional Florida readers will value this collection.

Kirkus Reviews
An intimate journey reveals a Florida few visitors would ever discover.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Brave, keenly observational, and humanitarian… Gerard's collection leaves an indelible impression.

Author Blurb Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
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.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

A Florida Reading List

Sarah Gerard's Sunshine State celebrates her coastal Florida upbringing. We've chosen five more books that also showcase Florida.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
Swamplandia! Ava Bigtree is 12 and reeling from her mother's death. She and her siblings participate in the family business, a gator-wrangling theme park on Swamplandia!, their (fictional) Florida island. Ava has big dreams to fill her mother's shoes as head gator-wrestler and of securing her father's loyalty, but there are obstacles to overcome first – not least that her brother, Kiwi, has defected to the new Hell-themed World of Darkness park, and her sister, Osceola, in thrall to a mildewed copy of The Spiritist's Telegraph, is now dating ghosts.



The Blood of Heaven by Kent ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Sunshine State, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Becoming
    Becoming
    by Michelle Obama
    Voted 2019 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    BookBrowse hosted a Book Club ...
  • Book Jacket: Butterfly Yellow
    Butterfly Yellow
    by Thanhha Lai, Daniel Suarez
    Voted 2019 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    As readers, many of us hope ...
  • Book Jacket: Olive, Again
    Olive, Again
    by Elizabeth Strout
    Voted 2019 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    It's been a big year for literary ...
  • Book Jacket: Solitary
    Solitary
    by Albert Woodfox
    Voted 2019 Best Debut Author Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    According to statistics from ...

Book Club
Book Jacket
Evening in Paradise
by Lucia Berlin

"Berlin's new book is a marvel, filled with deeply touching stories about lives on the fringes."—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Nothing to See Here
    by Kevin Wilson

    A moving and uproarious novel about a woman who finds meaning caring for two children with remarkable abilities.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Butterfly Yellow

BUTTERFLY YELLOW

Winner of the BookBrowse Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and the overall highest rated book of the year!

Enter

Wordplay

The Big Holiday Wordplay

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.