Storms, snakes, sinkholes, and secrets: In Lauren Groff’s Florida, the hot sun shines, but a wild darkness lurks.

There are two sides to every story—eleven stories, in this case. Our First Look Club reviewers Kai and Jed have different takes on these stories, all set in the Sunshine State. Read on to know what they think of Lauren Groff’s latest, Florida.

The Common Ground

Kai says: An anthology of eleven short stories […] with Florida at its core — the Florida that is filled with creatures lying in wait… the Florida that is bleak and grimy and sweltering hot all the time. Florida might have been the shared backdrop, but the stories always revolved around human relationships, especially families, and all the baggage that comes with it.

Jed says: There are two themes that tie the eleven stories together: the titular state of Florida, and the protagonists being women going through some form of physical or emotional crisis.

The Cloud Overhead

Kai says: But if there is one thing (besides Florida) that truly ties the eleven pieces together, it is that impending sense of doom in the horizon. All the stories bring you to the precipice (of what, it is not clear) where you could either fall to your doom or take a few steps back to safety. This is a testament to Groff’s mastery of atmospheric writing.

Jed says: The book’s prose flows with a unique tone that lends a thick, oppressive atmosphere to all the stories it contains. This only serves to amplify the problem with Florida, however: the writing is exceptional, but the content quickly becomes uninteresting from its predictability.

The Slow Burn

Kai says: This is a book that demands a slow unraveling. I highly recommend it, and encourage readers to take their time with it. Despite its relatively few page count, it can be a little heavy for one sitting, and the undertones of dread that washes over you needs to be paced properly to be fully enjoyed.

Jed says: Florida features remarkable prose, but the subject matter becomes repetitive quickly. Recommended only for fans of very introspective and open-ended stories, and even then, read this one story at a time over the span of a year.


Florida by Lauren Groff will be available soon at Fully Booked stores. To reserve a copy in advance, email us at

Kai finds narratives and tells stories for a living, and is in constant search for fascination in worlds both real and imagined. Read her full review here.

Jed has worked as an animator, web designer, and college instructor, but he continues to dream of writing for a living. Read his full review here.

[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]

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