by Laura McHale Holland
A deadly tragedy. Misplaced trust. Will three orphans find hope in the dark?
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, shameful. He tells his three little girls his new wife is their mother. Two-year-old Laura finds the woman strange and surprisingly bitter, but she trusts her father. She thinks Mommy must have changed, like dough baking turns into bread. The hidden truth 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 narrated by a child reminiscent of Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden and Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. Yet the book’s tender emotional core is a revelation. If you like honest voices 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.
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Silver medal, Readers Favorite Book Awards, 2011
What people are saying about Reversible Skirt
Women’s Memoir speaks to the heart and Reversible Skirt is no exception. Laura McHale Holland describes heart-wrenching childhood experiences that, unfortunately, too many share. However, there is hope in the pages of this book—good times as well as bad. And the sisters’ bond is one to be envied. A beautiful read by a wonderful author. I highly recommend it.
—Elaine Webster, Standing at the Edge of the Crowd
What impressed me the most about Reversible Skirt is how loving Laura McHale Holland was able to remain under horrendous treatment. A small child, unable even to manage the steps, crawls up the stairs to see a mother who will not look at her. A stand-in-mommy, unloving and uncaring, sets about to rule her world. Holland presents cruelty against a backdrop of nostalgia and you are reminded of things you wanted as a child, games you played, clothes you wore — and that some children live a different, unhappy existence. Three little girls live together, but are unable to relate as sisters until finally old enough to piece together the puzzle of what happened to their real mother. That is when the healing begins — to understand it is not they who are wrong. I liked those girls a lot.
— Linda Loveland Reid, Touch of Magenta and Something in Stone
Laura McHale Holland’s vivid characters vibrate with an authenticity and life force rare in nonfiction. She builds suspense and compels the reader to care about her quirky bank of characters. She is a true writer of the heart.
— Claire Blotter, Moment in the Moment House
Laura McHale Holland is an eyewitness to the sad events of her childhood in this book: her young mother’s suicide, her father’s early death, her abusive stepmother’s tirades. Laura’s honest and wide awake look at the swirling world around her is skillfully drawn, so that we want to become her friend, to time travel back to those chaotic days and just hold her hand or play a game of checkers. Yet Laura’s message at the end, to take away, is that we befriend other children in need and know that they are watching and hoping. Such is the generous heart and compassion of Reversible Skirt.
— Kate Farrell, Wisdom Has a Voice and The Times They Were A-Changing
Reversible Skirt is the tender telling of a girls’ odyssey through an abusive childhood. The voice is honest. I feel as if I’ve known her all my life.
— H. B. Reid, The Connected
Reversible Skirt is a very sad tale redeemed by the exquisite, simple beauty of the language. The story follows three little girls who suffer the terrible loss of their mother and are brought to live with a stepmother who turns out to be troubled and abusive. There are some tender moments provided by relatives, when they’re allowed to make contact. Nevertheless, the sisters triumph in small ways, and here is the subtle magic of this book. There’s not a lot of fanfare–only the voice of the youngest, Laura, a toddler when the story begins. The child’s voice is bursting with images and deepens as the girl arranges the pieces of her story and begins to understand. This memoir feels so honest. The telling is beautiful. It’s the real deal.
— Marlena B, Amazon reader