Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Citrus County” as Want to Read:
Citrus County
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Citrus County

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  1,762 Ratings  ·  299 Reviews
"There shouldn't be a Citrus County. Teenage romance should be difficult, but not this difficult. Boys like Toby should cause trouble but not this much. The moon should glow gently over children safe in their beds. Uncles in their rockers should be kind. Teachers should guide and inspire. Manatees should laze and palm trees sway and snakes keep to their shady spots under t ...more
ebook, 311 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by McSweeney's (first published July 1st 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Citrus County, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Citrus County

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was in Citrus County during my last visit to Florida ... so when I saw this small paperback on sale for $5 through McSweeney's Publishing....( a fan of this publishing company created by Dave Eggers anyway)... I wanted to read it.

Author Dan Chaon wrote: ( about this book)....."Makes you laugh as it breaks your heart"! That pretty much sums it up for me too.

Author Lauren Groff says "John Brandon is a great young writer who can -- and probably will -- do just about anything".

My mind did a dou
Aug 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i blink and suddenly i have read two of the buzz books of the summer!

this one i have mike to thank for - i would have just bought it (like i did the author's first book) with good intentions, and it would have sat around until lord knows when, but his review made me read the first three pages right there at work and say - "oh, yes, i will read this soon". and look at me following through!

this man writes just the way i like - he has a story to tell and he tells it, with very few literary pyrotec
Aug 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Citrus County, lock up your little girls
Recommended to Mariel by: Florida swamps that have forgotten their fireflies
I wish that I had read the same book that other members on goodreads read. I don't come from this place. I don't live in Citrus County. I want to live different places, know different people. I want to tell myself about stuff that happened and people that the things happened to. It doesn't have to be a mantra, maybe a sign of life or a reminder to feel something I'd forgotten. I want to sing along, you know? Some company would be really nice. I find that I can let myself go if I'm not the only o ...more
Krok Zero
Sep 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fall-2010
The good kind of contradiction: I would have gladly read an additional 500 pages about Toby and Shelby, the troubled co-protagonists of Citrus County, yet I recognize that John Brandon's concision -- the book clocking in at just over 200 pages -- was the right choice for the story.

This is a great novel, the best new one I've read this year. So much love for this book. I wish I'd purchased it so I could spew lovely quotations at you, but this was a bookstore-loitering read. Don't judge me. I have
Matthew Allard
117. That's the page where I am going to stop and put this book to rest. It's a painful mental burden to stop a book midway, but I'm so slumped by this. 2. That's the number of stars I'm applying. I'd give it half that, but it gets an extra since I, admittedly, didn't read to the last page. (As if my system of rating things has ever been scientific or systematic.)

Bah. A lot of people liked this book. (The NYT Book Review gave it some high praise, for example.) Others, like me, did not/could not
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh. God. So. Good. I love love John Brandon anyway, back from the painfully spectacular Arkansas, and this one gives you that same sinking feeling in your stomach once you get into it, once you know that there is just no way this will get better or go well. Toby and Shelby, the main characters in this one, are just amazing and so so real. (I hope I never get too old to ache and squirm when I read about teenagers falling messily and awkwardly and terribly for one another.) John Brandon's writing ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-dirty-south
With John Brandon, get ready to spend time with criminals. But get ready too, to strip away everything that defines them as criminals, to write in everything that makes them whole, interesting, broken, fun, doomed, ordinary, earnest, cruel, largehearted people. No one gets written off, no one gets cut any slack. We spend time in the woods and get just what was promised: the subversion of expectations, the wild incongruities of humanity, the cigarette before the firing squad shoots you down. It’s ...more
There is very good writing here, but no soul. The writing is clinical, all white walls and and the smell of antiseptic cleaner in the air; The characters are drawn with gloves on. I kept reading because that is how one gets to the end, but my heart was in the other room. There was excellent dialogue that belonged to some other book, and was dropped in this plot by a negligent editor. Who takes a class in marine biology in eighth grade? Psychology? In eighth grade? What eighth grader has the guts ...more
Jul 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A generous three stars, more like 2.5 for me. An admirable short novel that seemed to do what it wanted to do just fine, I guess. Mid-level misanthrophy. One minor LOL for me re: the girls basketball team. Occasionally precious A+ "creative writing 101" descriptions ("she smelled like freckles"). Felt like an overextended short story? Monotextured (<-- that's a really wonky way of saying it maintains a similar tone/pace/approach throughout). A "terse novella" maybe would have worked better? S ...more
Oct 15, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got to page 32 and was so shocked and horrified by the contents of that single page that I skimmed the remaining 170 or so pages to see if the novel was worth pursuing. The answer? Um, no. Why on earth did we have to go there? I was sort of warming up to this, thinking that maybe I'd wrongly stereotyped McSweeney's fiction catalog in the past. I even LOLed at several of Mr. Hibma's antics and found him a sort of an edgier, funnier, male counterpart to Bynum's wonderful Ms. Hempel. I thought th ...more
Aug 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not since Scott Spencer’s ‘Endless Love’, have I been so conflicted about a novel. Is Citrus County fatally flawed or have I failed as a reader? I really don’t know, so I’ll just hit on a few things:

John Brandon is the heart breaker with the bottom line; his characters know more than they possibly could. There are sentences so perfect and wise that they leap out as not belonging to these characters at all. Was that a bit surreal? Sure, but it worked for me.

The writing is off-beat, really allurin
I'm hovering between four and five stars for this one but after some initial hesitation, it just has to be a five. I loved it, not in the same way that I have loved other books that I have rated five star but it was amazing in its own way. Brandon's writing style is fantastic, one of those books where you're unaware that you're reading; the story merely unfolds in front of you. Most unnerving about the book was the protagonist and his callous actions but somehow at the same time, you understood ...more
Stephanie Sanders-Jacob
I think I heard about Citrus County from a Buzz Feed-esque list containing “15 Examples of Modern Southern Gothic Literature.” Southern Gothic is one of my favorite things on Earth and I had just gotten back from a trip to Florida, so this seemed like the natural progression of things. I was nervous, however – I’ve got it in my head that something is not truly Southern Gothic unless it was written before 1963. This rule is arbitrary – I made it up – but it seems right, somehow.

I will be revising
Caitlin Constantine
I've written before in reviews that I usually do not find most "comic" novels to be very comic. I feel bad admitting this, like it is somehow indicative of some sourpuss-type personality, or like it means I am deficient in the humor category, but the truth is, I just don't find books that try to be funny to be all that funny. A book that makes me actually laugh out loud is GOLD.

Which is why I am pleased to say that I laughed multiple times while reading this book, and almost always at Mr. Hibma,
Max Everhart
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good fiction has the ring of truth. It is believable, plausible, and enjoyable, even the ugly bits. But great fiction is true. And Citrus County, with its extraordinarily ordinary characters, no frills prose, and stuck-in-second-gear pace is great fiction.

The narrative follows (shadows might be a better word) three characters: Toby and Shelby, two middle school students, and Mr. Hibma, one of their teachers. Early on, Shelby is infatuated with Toby, a boy who is something more than your run-of-t
Jul 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many passages in this book were quite beautiful, and I was interested in how little we saw of the crime in the novel, around which everything revolves. That was pretty cool.

My main trouble with Brandon's novel is the characterization. It felt like these characters were made up of a series of arbitrary quirks. Shelby is into Jewish comics. Mr. Hibma (kept at a distance with his teacher-title throughout the book) gives his students posters of old movies. And? So what? When I described this charact
Megan Mullins
I somewhat feel like the 3 star rating is generous, because the book is full of unforgivable characters, including a main character who does something REALLY terrible but then the act is almost glossed over. He does this bad thing then focuses on his 8th grade love life. It is all very unsettling. But on the other hand, I somewhat feel like the 3 stars are unfair because despite the unlikable characters and dark subject matter, I found myself unable to put it down. I also found the characters ve ...more
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading the review and excerpt of CC in the NYTimes this weekend, I ordered the book, got it last night via UPS, and finished it by morning. I never do that. Okay, I do, but it's exceedingly rare. The whole time I was thinking, yes, yes, yes, this is what a novel is supposed to do. I didn't want to skip paragraphs. I noticed zero things I would've wanted done differently, or better. I didn't think, jeez, that's strains believability. I was just along for the ride, thankful to hear someone ...more
Owen Curtsinger
Brandon weaves a chilling suspense tale that is totally devoid of any stereotypical one-dimensional suspense characters. What we have instead is a group of people who are as deeply layered and complicated as real-life people, each with their own fears and just-slightly-twisted obsessions that make them seem so close to reality that we could speak to them or hug them...not that we would want to. The book follows the life of the perpetrator so closely that there's no room for edge-of-your-seat mys ...more
Sep 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars actually; I didn't quite like it, but I think it was better than ok. I think I might really have liked it - as a short story. As a novel though, even a relatively slim one, I couldn't find enough in the characters or plot developments to much care and it felt repetitive. The novel consists of usually short chapters alternating 3rd person perspectives between 3 characters: Shelby, Toby, and Mr. Hibma, and after a few cycles their rather angsty musings not only sounded too much like that ...more
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
People who are depressed do TERRIBLE things. They have no connection to reality and know nothing of the pain they are inflicting on others. It was hard for me to get into this book because the things the main character did were just so awful. Eventually I did exactly what the author wanted me to do, I stopped paying attention to the details/action and just became a passive reader; accepting what was going on so that I could spend a few more pages in the mind of two total whack jobs.

Telling you a
Liz Baessler
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one, like Mira Corpora, was at the end of a long line of “you might also likes.” And it was a lot like what I’d hoped Mira Corpora would be. It was short, it was interesting, and it was just a little bit shocking.

I was actually pretty shocked by where this story went, but in a good way. Some reviewers are complaining that the book’s horribleness is glossed over, but that’s how I like it. And I could honestly say that I was reading a storyline I’d never read before.

I was impressed by the c
Jul 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the smart kids who could of ended up lost
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Powell's staff picks
Shelves: 2011
This book sits on a shelf smirking. You might need to brush up on your vocabulary too before reading it. It would be hard to describe the plot of this book except in a very exoskeleton type way, weird shit happens that is unexpected and it should not be described beforehand.

It takes place in a northern part of Florida, there are middle schoolers, Iceland and wayward teachers involved. A lot of smart people seem to be sporting not only a bad attitude but a fatalistic one. That this is set in Flo
Jul 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I rarely give a book a one star rating because I rarely finish those books. This I was forced to finish in order to turn in an assignment on time. I found this book deeply disturbing. A lot like walking into Columbine in the head of the gunman. It just felt like a train wreck and the resolution was very unsatisfying.

Toby and Shelby are two teens whose lives seem to be revolving around a disaster course. Toby is a hardened delinquent who plans and commits a horrifying crime. Shelby is a teenage
Sep 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Citrus County is at once a coming-of-age story, a crime thriller, and a
romance. Set in swampy interior Florida, the eponymous county is home to
some of the best characters I've met in a long time: Toby, a sullen
eighth-grade loner wrestling with his compulsion to violence and a
nascent, confusing optimism; Shelby, whip-smart but no kiss-ass with the
verve to tell Toby "You could kiss me sometime if you wanted;" and Mr.
Hibma, their geography teacher who fantasizes about smothering the English
Jun 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit
This book is about 2 middle schoolers in FL. But this is not a kids book. It's not even a YA book. It's a book that barely makes it into the Southern Gothic Lit genre. Although an interesting story, the writer is continually showing that his writing is greatly influenced by Catcher in the Rye. The protagonist, Toby, wants to be Holden Caulfield, but doesn't quite make it. The story is also influence by the short story of Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find." And, last, influences are ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to stacy by: Constance
my first book of 2012. pretty freakin awesome.

i really enjoyed it. four stars. no more. no less. i think that when people read it, they will hate it or love it. i loved it.

i am terrible at reviews so i will paste here from the nyt review why i loved it:

He subverts the expectations of an adolescent novel by staying true to the wild incongruities of adolescence, and subverts the expectations of a crime novel by giving us people who are more than criminals and victims. The result is a great story i
Jan 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gift-from-todd
Very dark - the plot centers around the kidnapping of a young girl, and all of the characters amongst whom the story's perspective shifts have some serious flaws. Yet they all feel redeemed, somehow, in the end - while reading, I wouldn't have thought that possible, but Brandon manages to end the book in a way I found both satisfactory and relatively optimistic. A book that asks you to extend any sympathy whatsoever to the kidnapper himself is certainly going to rub some readers the wrong way, r ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
This is the page-turner everyone says it is. Imagine a Patricia Highsmith novel where the author feels some real sympathy for the characters -- I know that may be impossible to do. Brandon dissects the setting, nailing the worn-out feel of a suburb that seems to have lost any connection to a larger city, where convenience stores are the most viable businesses, strip malls are mostly shuttered, development projects abandoned, and the planned opening of a jazz club is aptly described by one of his ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Misadventure
  • McSweeney's #31
  • The Instructions
  • Fever Chart
  • A Moment in the Sun
  • Zipper Mouth
  • The Convalescent
  • Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, "Found" Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts
  • Orientation: And Other Stories
  • The Listeners
  • Vacation
  • You Think That's Bad
  • Twilight
  • The Pharmacist's Mate
  • The Children's Hospital
  • All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost
Although John Brandon is an MFA graduate of the writing program at Washington University in St. Louis, while drafting the novel Arkansas, he "worked at a lumber mill, a windshield warehouse, a Coca-Cola distributor, and several small factories producing goods made of rubber and plastic." In his spare time, he obsesses over Florida Gators football.
More about John Brandon...

Share This Book

“In middle school, he reminded them, ugly girls are intimidated by pretty girls. Hell, it was this way with adult women. A team could gain advantage by keeping tan and having their nails done.” 4 likes
“[he] had learned how to force his mood, to keep himself in the middle ground, neither manic nor hopeless. He seemed a bit lighter in spirit, perhaps because he had less of it. He would find peace, even if it were some compromised brand.” 4 likes
More quotes…