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.
... a thoughtful, quite serious story with only a few snatches of humor about a young woman seeking to belong, friendship and animal sanctuaries run with good intentions ... quickly evolves into a quintessential Florida novel, utilizing the state’s rural environs, far from beaches or theme parks ... Rogers keeps the story moving with a brisk hand while allowing Jamie’s personality to develop as she becomes devoted to Atlas and the women. Her worries about the refuge devastate her but also give her a strength she didn’t know she had ... ushers in a new talent who knows the quirkiness of the Sunshine State.
After a while, the accumulating evidence that Jamie willfully ignores becomes tedious. It puts the reader so far ahead of the story that Jamie seems determinedly dim rather than what she is: a victim stuck in a cycle of abuse and emotional withholding. Telling the story of how a person gets caught up in such a situation is worthy, but we don’t get enough of a sense of Jamie’s emotional character to understand why she behaves this way. Throughout the book, Jamie remains a mostly blank slate maneuvered around to serve the plot ... Jamie’s playing along is often the only thing driving the story forward, which wilts its momentum like a crisp shirt on a hot day ... Florida Woman’s greatest strength is its sense of place. Rogers has an equal grasp of sun-baked life on the sandy coasts and the humid wilderness of the interior ... Rogers’s affection for Atlas’s animals is also clear ... Jamie’s transformation is so longed-for that it can only feel cathartic, and the story’s conclusion is efficiently set up and threaded together for an ending that’s well-plotted and satisfying, although not exactly plausible or surprising ... I had high hopes for Florida Woman because, well, I am one. Although Rogers finds some tenderhearted balance between the weirdness and wonder of my home state, the promise of this backwoods mystery falls flat in the hands of a flimsy protagonist.
... bewitching ... 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.