"Razor-sharp... Deb Rogers writes with such verve and honesty about all the ways we stumble through life, and, like all great storytellers, gives us something wondrous when we reach the end of the journey.” —Kevin Wilson, bestselling author of Nothing to See Here
An Indie Next Selection • A Fantastic Strangelings Book Club Pick • Recommended by: Harper's Bazaar • Shondaland • New York Post • Goodreads • Lambda Literary • Book Riot • Reader’s Digest • LGBTQReads • Medium • Debutiful • She Reads • Autostraddle • and more!
A gleefully dark and entertaining debut for fans of Kevin Wilson and Karen Russell, about one young woman’s sensational summer at a Floridian wildlife center for exotic monkeys
Jamie is a Florida Woman. She grew up on the beach, thrives in humidity, has weathered more hurricanes than she can count, and now, after going viral for an outrageous crime she never meant to commit in the first place, she has the requisite headline to her name. But when the chance comes for her to escape viral infamy and imminent jail time by taking a community service placement at Atlas, a shelter for rescued monkeys, it seems like just the fresh start Jamie needs to finally get her life back on track — until it’s not.
Something sinister stirs in the palmetto woods surrounding her cabin, and secrets lurk among the three beguiling women who run the shelter and affectionately take Jamie under their wing for the summer. She hears the distant screams of monkeys each night; the staff perform cryptic, lakeside sacrifices to honor Atlas; and the land, which has long been abandoned by citrus farmers and theme park developers alike, now proves to be dangerously, relentlessly untamed.
As Jamie ventures deeper into the offbeat world and rituals of Atlas, her summer is soon set to inspire an even stranger Florida headline than she ever could’ve imagined.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Bizarre headlines about the destructive antics of “Florida Man” have become a staple of pop culture. This dark, funny novel offers a fresh take on the idea. After one bad drunken decision is caught on camera, twentysomething Florida waitress Jamie Hawthorne finds herself facing criminal charges. Luckily, it turns out she can serve her sentence doing community service…at an off-the-grid sanctuary for macaque monkeys. Debut author Deb Rogers gives us a hilariously madcap mystery full of unforgettable characters and poignant moments, as Jamie begins to suspect that something’s not quite right with her quirky co-volunteers. If you love mysteries with a side of mayhem, you’ll go (ahem) bananas for Florida Woman.
In Rogers's bewitching debut, a woman tries to start fresh after earning the internet moniker "Florida Woman." Jamie Hawthorne, rootless at 28, had enough of being harassed and shortchanged by her boss at a St. Augustine tiki bar. Her crime, which comes out in greater detail later in the narrative, involved a fire, autographed dollar bills, and a pelican. Now, hoping to live down her notoriety, she begins a sentence of residential service at the Atlas macaque sanctuary. Its founder, Sari, who takes care of the facility's 42 monkeys, hopes to inherit the property from her mother, Flora. Though Jamie thinks Atlas has a "grimy, isolated, snake-trap vibe" and her monitoring device chafes her ankle and soul, the place soon feels like home, and she hopes to make the most of her three-month stay. Then, awakened one night by simian shrieks, she witnesses Sari leading volunteers in what appears to be a cultlike ritual. After Jamie glimpses an emaciated Flora combing compost piles for food and is told never to go into the sanctuary's medical lab, she tries to balance her need for belonging with a growing sense of unease. In the tradition of Carl Hiaasen, Rogers relishes Florida's oddities and extremes, yet she makes Jamie quietly if quirkily sympathetic, lending the rollicking story a vulnerable heart. Readers will fall in love with this one. Agent: Hannah Brattesani, Friedrich Agency.
Seriously stupid characters
I don’t like stories with unintelligent character, especially female ones, andFlorida Woman servers them up liberally. I just couldn’t get past that. Save your money if you feel the same.