Through the Groves: A Memoir

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"Anne Hull has written some of the most important stories of our time, beautifully, unflinchingly."
--Rick Bragg

A richly evocative coming-of-age memoir set in the Florida orange groves of the 1960s by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

Anne Hull grew up in rural Central Florida, barefoot half the time and running through the orange groves her father's family had worked for generations. The ground trembled from the vibrations of bulldozers and jackhammers clearing land for Walt Disney World. "Look now," her father told her as they rode through the mossy landscape together. "It will all be gone." But the real threat was at home, where Hull was pulled between her idealistic but self-destructive father and her mother, a glamorous outsider from Brooklyn struggling with her own aspirations. All the while, Hull felt the pressures of girlhood closing in. She dreamed of becoming a traveling salesman who ate in motel coffee shops, accompanied by her baton-twirling babysitter. As her sexual identity took shape, Hull knew the place she loved would never love her back and began plotting her escape.

Here, Hull captures it all--the smells and sounds of a disappearing way of life, the secret rituals and rhythms of a doomed family, the casual racism of the rural South in the 1960s, and the suffocating expectations placed on girls and women.

Vividly atmospheric and haunting, Through the Groves will speak to anyone who's ever left home to cut a path of their own.

About the Author

Anne Hull is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who spent nearly two decades as a reporter at the Washington Post. She is a fifth-generation Floridian who started her newspaper career at the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times). She lives in Washington, DC.

"This warmly evocative recollection of [Hull's] formative years will appeal to a wide audience, especially those who enjoy understated, stylishly well-told stories....a funny, candid, and authentic memoir."

"[An] entrancing coming-out and coming-of-age memoir...[Hull] paints a masterful, full-fleshed portrait of the Florida of her youth...this is a stirring account of growing up at odds with one's environment and making it out on the other side."
--Publishers Weekly

"Honest, tender, wistful, Through The Groves is a clear-eyed evocation of a very particular time and place and people. It's also a gut-punch of a story about a childhood filled with uncertainty, questions, longing. This feels like the book Anne Hull has been wanting to write, needing to write, and also maybe the book she felt a little afraid to write, which are the perfect conditions for a heart-rending memoir. I've long admired Hull as a journalist, but I turned the last page feeling she was a friend."
--J. R. Moehringer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Tender Bar

"Stunningly beautiful. A spellbinding trek into a long-lost Florida and a girlhood whose heroine you will never forget."
--Andrea Elliott, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Invisible Child

"Anne Hull stole my heart in chapter one with her childhood stories of driving long miles through dusty orchards while building the quiet confidence born of helping dad at his job. By the end of Through the Groves, she had given it back to me, fuller and wiser, and with a new gratitude for the 'orange people' who provide the sweetness to our mornings."
--Hope Jahren, author of Lab Girl and The Story of More

"Anne Hull's memoir takes the reader on a rattletrap, strangely private, exquisitely moving ride. Hull can remind one of Welty at times, both in her humor (subtle, wild, forgiving) and her disarmingly skillful prose. Yet Hull is zanier and sexier than Welty, and there is also an erotic coming- of-age story discreetly embedded in this book."
--Terry Castle, author of The Professor and Other Writings

"Anne Hull has written some of the most important stories of our time, beautifully, unflinchingly. We should not be surprised that in her memoir, as she turns her pen toward her own heart, own ghosts, it would be beautiful, too. A memoir is supposed to be brave, and it is, but this is more than that. Here, we learn that an orange grove can contain all the terror and all the beauty in the world, and that the trees will cut you up, inside an out. As she tells her own story she tells a tale of old Florida, all but extinct by now, a place where you can trust an orange grower but never a tomato man, and the mermaids, made from department store mannequins, still call to you, somehow, across miles of dust and grit and pesticide. It is, ultimately, a story of breaking free, only to see, as all of us do, that there is no such thing."
--Rick Bragg, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of All Over But the Shoutin'

"Anne Hull writes with detail so evocative, unsentimental, and deliciously funny that to read her is an uncommon joy. There is a gift on every page of Through the Groves, a memoir that shows the world what many of us in the newspaper world have long known. Anne's a wonder, one of a kind."
--David Maraniss, author of Path Lit By Lightning

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Pub date: June 20, 2023
224 pages
Format: Hardcover