On the verge of losing his children after his wife ends her life, a desperate father remarries in haste to reunite his family. It's the 1950s. He is Catholic. Suicide is a sin. He tells his three little girls his new wife is their mother. Laura, a toddler, finds the woman strange and surprisingly bitter, but she trusts her father. Mommy must have changed, she thinks, like dough baking turns into bread. The truth, kept secret, festers. Years later, Laura's father is dying. His wife promises to love his girls as her own. Instead, she grows increasingly sadistic and vile. No one can stop her from doing harm. Nevertheless, Laura and her sisters are not defeated. Their father's wish that they stay together comes true, although not in the way he'd imagined. Reversible Skirt, a memoir, is the tender telling of a little girl's odyssey through an abusive childhood. If you like honest voices, characters that crackle with life, exquisite language, and true stories of strength in the face of adversity, you'll love Laura McHale Holland's heart-wrenching testament to the power of forgiveness and love.
I believe stories can spark our deepest, truest selves—sometimes momentarily, sometimes indelibly—and I strive to do this every day. I'm now at work on a novel inspired by magical realism and folklore. It introduces a quirky, sometimes contentious cast of characters in a fictional river town where forces beyond everyday reality both help and hinder, and secrets surface, testing the community's mettle. The book is with beta readers now. Previously, I've published two memoirs, a collection of flash fiction, and an anthology on sisterhood that contains the work of 76 writers from across the globe. I also enjoy writing short plays and have had several produced locally. In addition, I edit full time for a financial services trade publication, serve as a judge for short fiction contests run by a global arts organization and occasionally copyedit novels written by local authors. I feel it's worth pursuing our dreams through all of life's ups and downs, even when they seem lost to us, and if my persistence in pursuing a creative path can help you on your journey, that will fill my heart with gladness.
What if your mother committed suicide when you were small, and your father was so wounded he pretended she'd never existed? What if tragedy struck again, and you were left in the care of an abusive stepmother? I yearned to tell this child's story. My story. But I would begin and stop—over and over. Then, one day, the little girl I used to be came to me much like Alice Walker described characters in her novels coming to visit her for a while, and that little girl spoke the only words she knew to be true, "Gramma loves me." I followed her voice and finally wrote my childhood memoir, Reversible Skirt, because she had a lot to say.
Reversible Skirt: A Memoir
Gramma loves me. I know this by the way she says my name, Laura. She lilts it, tickles the air with it, like I’m a ruby she’s just spied glittering in one of the sidewalk cracks in front of her great big red brick apartment building. It’s on Birchwood Avenue. And that’s where I am right now. Looking out the parlor window. Waiting. It’s like I’m standing on a mountain of cream puffs all mine alone because any minute Gramma will call my name and tell me it’s time for our special ride. Nobody else says my name the way Gramma does. Not Daddy, not Kathy and Mary Ruth, not Uncle John, and not Mommy, who loves church so much I think maybe she up and moved into one a while back.