Laura McHale Holland
The Kiminee Dream
A love song for Illinois disguised as a novel
Coming May 2020
Odd things happen in Kiminee, Illinois. Lilacs bloom in winter. Gravel glows golden on occasion. Pigs play kick the can. So when Carly Mae Foley learns to read at age two and masters multiplication at age three, the town’s quirky, tight-knit denizens take it in stride and embrace her with pride. But when a terrible twister tears through, Carly Mae is maimed, dashing hopes for her future. Her father is swept away and assumed dead. And her mother slinks off after creeping, naked, with her lover from the remains of a ruined home. It’s up to Carly Mae’s grandmother and a devoted, one-eared dog to hold what’s left of the family together. But not everyone is rooting for them, and when an unspeakable crime occurs, long-held animosities boil over. Will the good folks of Kiminee pull closer together now—or be torn apart?
Influenced by folklore and magical realism, The Kiminee Dream is a lyrical story with characters equally charmed and challenged while living where the ordinary and miraculous coexist seamlessly. If you like depth as well as whimsy, arresting twists, and details that rouse your senses, you’ll love what is both an eloquent exploration of acceptance and a tender tribute to the people of Illinois.
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An Excerpt from The Kiminee Dream
In the town of Kiminee, the end was never the end, sorrow left supple scars and wishes cracked reality. This was true even when a teenager forced too soon into womanhood darted through a moonlit winter night, exhaling moist clouds into biting air. Clad in a sleeveless, cotton nightgown and slippers worn thin, the young fan of frilly dresses, black roses and Bing Crosby’s mellow baritone didn’t wince at the cold. She ran on, eyes glazed with fever, dewy skin blemished.
At the riverbank, she vaulted over snow-covered boulders onto solid ice. With arms outstretched and face tilted skyward, she glided. Voice wavering, she rasped a lullaby her mother used to sing in a city where coal dust muted the horizon. Her heart thrummed. Tears flowed. Blood slid down her thighs.
She kicked up her feet. Gone were the slippers, replaced by skates of purest-white leather with gleaming blades; gone was the nightie, replaced by a costume with sequined rainbows and silver fringe. She leaped, spun, landed. Ice cracked. She rose and fell again. The brittle surface groaned. She leaped higher, higher—each time a creak, a crack. Into the air she twirled once more. When she touched down, a fissure welcomed her. She plummeted, lips closed, eyes smiling.
When she embraced her maker that frozen Illinois night in 1936, all residents of the community nestled along the river’s curves were asleep. Except for one. And for decades to come, they knew nothing of her brief life and demise.
Except for one.
Praise for The Kiminee Dream
The author of The Kiminee Dream, Laura McHale Holland, knows a thing or two about the beauty to be found in characters from America’s heartland. They are always quirky and some are on magical, profoundly personal quests. And if their fellow travelers include pets, wildlife and even the landscape itself, it all makes for a hypnotic and endearing story. The turn of Kiminee Dream’s final page feels like the end of a much-needed visit home.
— Rayne Wolfe is a former New York Times Staff Writer, San Francisco Chronicle columnist, and author of Toxic Mom Toolkit.
The Kiminee Dream is lively and provocative, and the writing is poetic and powerful.
–Beth Ann Mathews, author of Bent But Not Broken
I was impressed by how many people play a role in this story, which of course makes it all the more realistic for a small town where everyone knows each other. More than that, though, whenever a name is mentioned for the first time, even offhandedly, it often returns later with a proper introduction of that character. Gradually, the reader learns that even the most (seemingly) minor characters play a role in the story. And while this is primarily the Foley family’s story, it belongs to the town, too.
–Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone and Our Year of Maybe
The little town of Kiminee, Illinois, population 1,257, has always had something magical about it. Why, if you listen closely, you can even hear the Bendy River, which flows alongside this burg, burbling to the tune of “You Are My Sunshine.” But the residents of Kiminee also have a few skeletons secreted away – both real and metaphorical. Cozy up with this novel when you have a few hours; Laura McHale Holland has crafted a page-turner. Once you enter this world, you won’t want to leave until the last mystery is solved.
– Michel Wing, author of Body on the Wall: Poems