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.
Thank you for stopping by, dear book lover. In addition to being an author, I edit full time for a financial services publication, copyedit for novelists in my Northern California community, and serve as a judge for short fiction contests run by a New York creative arts organization. I've published four books so far: two memoirs, a collection of flash fiction, and an anthology on sisterhood that contains the work of 76 writers from across the globe. In the works are a novel (literary fiction, magical realism set in Illinois, where I grew up) and a nonfiction book that I believe has potential to help many people lose unwanted weight. You might be surprised to know books were a rarity in my childhood home; nobody in my family read for pleasure. Yet I always loved the spoken word. I would remember things people said and turn them over in my mind, just enjoying the sound of them. Attending a story workshop in college, where excerpts from contemporary literature were read aloud, galvanized my love of the written word—and here I am, decades later, hoping my work sparks your imagination and takes you on a memorable journey.
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.