Through The Groves
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.
In conversation with David Maraniss.
Anne Hull is a journalist and the author of Through The Groves: A Memoir (Henry Holt, 2023.) She spent nearly two decades as a Washington Post reporter on the national staff. Hull helped uncover the poor living conditions for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. for which the Post was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. She’s been a visiting journalism professor at Princeton University and a Berlin Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. She lives in Washington, D.C
David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and was a finalist three other times. Among his bestselling books are biographies of Jim Thorpe, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Roberto Clemente, and Vince Lombardi, and a trilogy about the 1960s—Rome 1960; Once in a Great City (winner of the RFK Book Prize); and They Marched into Sunlight.