Written by William Culyer Hall
Winner, 2011 Florida Book Award for Best Popular Fiction
“The main trouble with panthers is they cain’t change. With the whole world changing round him, a panther got no choice but to go on being a panther. He cain’t reason like you and me, cain’t decide to go about earnin his livin a little differently.” July reached and touched the boy’s shoulder. “I got to act like a panther my whole life but you ain’t gonna have that luxury.” He withdrew his hand but continued to study his grandson intently. “You understand what I’m getting at?”
“Yessir, I reckon. You’re sayin I have to be willin to change.”
I’ll never forget the day I saw a Florida panther at the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park near the Everglades. The sleek, muscular panther was strolling along with its prey, crossing an open field while heading into the Florida scrub. It was a true Authentic Florida moment. Today, there is an estimated 100 panthers remaining in Florida. The decline in the population is due to several reasons but primarily to their shrinking native habitat.
The Trouble with Panthers is about land, Florida’s cultural history, its modern day challenges and a familiar story of growth, the people and personalities behind the transformation.
Bodie, the story’s main character, is grandson of July Rawlerson, patriarch of the central Florida Curlew Cattle Ranch. July has lived a full life of ranching and is in poor health, creating a situational dilemma. The Rawlerson family is faced with split family interests, encroaching land development and limited choices. July’s son, Seth (Bodie’s father), struggles to continue the family legacy and maintain the life he has known. Adding further to the story, a murder-mystery weaves intrigue and tension into the plight of the family. Young Bodie navigates through uncharted territory, grappling with familial duty while creating his new journey – led by his innate cowboy grit.
For most of us, reading and selecting a book is highly personal. I enjoy uncomplicated novels, especially ones written about Florida. I’ll take a simple, comfortable, easy read any Florida day, because if reminds me of the simplicity of what we have here, despite its jarring realities.
I enjoy spending my free time outdoors relishing the beauty of Florida and know that while I can’t change the past, I can fully enjoy the present. I am mesmerized when I read stories that expertly and vividly illustrate Florida – it’s natural beauty, wildlife and culture. And yes, there is much to be done to protect what we have in Florida.
I am grateful for author William Culyer Hall’s commitment to telling the Florida story, one familiar to him, through his own family heritage. His love of Florida and compassion for our state’s future is clearly evident and delightfully inspiring.
Enjoy this endearing story. I promise that it will stay with you for awhile.