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Excerpts from 'Newswomen: Twenty-five Years of Front-Page Journalism'

Newswomen: Twenty-five Years of Front-Page Journalism gathers stories by 17 award-winning female newspaper reporters.

Two of those reporters, Lane DeGregory and Anne Hull, will appear at the Times Festival of Reading on Oct. 24 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

DeGregory has been a staff writer for the Times since 2000. She won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2009 for her series "The Girl in the Window," about a brutally neglected child and the family who gave her a new life.

Hull began her career at the then-St. Petersburg Times and now is a reporter at the Washington Post. Along with reporter Dana Priest and photographer Michel du Cille, Hull won a Pulitzer for public service in 2008 for reporting on the treatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Here are excerpts from their stories in Newswomen.

Colette Bancroft, Times book editor

Lane DeGregory

DeGregory's contribution to Newswomen is "To Die For," which appeared in the Times in 2010. It chronicles the clash of two teenage girls in love with the same boy, a clash with fatal consequences.

Across town, Rachel was at her place, waiting to see Josh. She didn't know about Sarah and her movies.

Just about dark, while walking her dog, she heard a car honk. Rachel later told police she saw Sarah cruising by in her mom's minivan. Sarah yelled, "Stay away from my man!"

Rachel said she was scared. She called an old boyfriend, Javier, and told him she didn't want to be alone. Could she come over?

She got her purse, slid open a kitchen drawer and pulled out a steak knife.

•••

Talk to the girls' friends and you start to understand what was going through their minds.

Sarah didn't feel she was worthy of Josh. Without a job or a car, how could she compete? Plus, she told her friends, she still had a curfew!

Rachel is so much prettier, she thought.

But she had already given everything to this guy — her senior year, her heart, her virginity. If he didn't want her anymore, who would?

Rachel was cocky. How could Josh want anyone else? Look at her, she had her own car, her own apartment.

She was so much prettier than Sarah.

Plus, she had known Josh forever. He knew her true self, and she knew him. Of course she was better than that fat loser.

•••

About 11 p.m., the time Sarah was supposed to be home, she and Josh were playing Wii at his sister's house when headlights pierced the windows.

Josh recognized the car: Rachel's red Saturn.

"Now I know why you're not talking to me — because you got her," Rachel texted Josh.

"That's right," texted Josh. It's a wonder he had the dexterity: By then, he later admitted, he had thrown back five vodka shots and smoked seven White Owl blunts of marijuana.

Anne Hull

The Newswomen selection by Hull is "A Better Life," which was published in the Times in 1995. It draws an intimate portrait of women from a small village in Mexico who come to the United States for work.

Juana Cedillo woke early and braided her hair. In the kitchen, she lit a breakfast fire. Then the tortillas, slap, slap, slap, the morning music drifting from every open shutter in Palomas. Juana made a stack of sixty and stirred a cup of Sanka.

She was thirty-five, barely five feet tall in her sandals. Her pans of tamales had gradually found their way to her hips. For a mother of eight, she was unusually mild-mannered. A hen would fall asleep in her hand as she drew the hatchet back to chop its neck.

Juana Cedillo was the fastest crab picker Daniels Seafood had ever seen. But in the weeks leading up to her departure, her stomach churned. It would be her third season. She began drinking Maalox.

Her L-shaped house in Palomas — the concrete was still wet from the expansion — was a shrine built by crab money. A new toilet gleamed in the outhouse in the yard. Silver faucets sparkled in the kitchen sink.

"What else do we need?" Juana's husband had asked.

"You never know when the US doesn't want you anymore," Juana said. "We must go while we can."

Construction on the new Catholic church in Palomas had stalled. One more season at Daniels Seafood, Juana reasoned, could refinance finishing the church, buying new Bibles and most of all, sending a daughter to high school in a nearby city.

That morning Alejandro, eight, and Eduardo, six, slept like fragile soldiers in the bed they shared. Juana implored them with a wake-up call from the kitchen. "Get up, it's time for school," she ordered, as Eduardo covered his head with the sheet.

She never watched them, but she watched them now from the doorway. She would not see them for six months. Did they understand why she was doing this?

Newswomen:

Twenty-five Years of Front-Page Journalism

Edited by Joyce Hoffmann

The Sager Group, 291 pages, $23.95

Meet the authors

Lane DeGregory and Anne Hull, both contributors to Newswomen, will be featured authors at the 23rd annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Oct. 24 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg; festivalofreading.com.

Excerpts from 'Newswomen: Twenty-five Years of Front-Page Journalism' 10/07/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 10:56am]
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