Drawing on the little-known true story of one tragic night at an Ozarks dance hall in the author's Missouri hometown, this beautifully written, endearingly nostalgic novel picks up 50 years later for a folksy, character-driven portrayal of small-town life, split second decisions, and the ways family secrets reverberate through generations. From the new Fannie Flagg of the Ozarks, a richly-woven story of family, forgiveness, and reinvention for readers of Kristy Harvey Woodson, Donna Everhart, Sue Monk Kidd, Jeannette Walls, and Rita Mae Brown... "A vivid blend of sensorial writing, historical detail, and memorable characters await in this compelling, surprising, insightful story of the weight of long-held secrets and the resulting hunger for truth."
- Susan Meissner, USA Today bestselling author of Only the Beautiful
Daisy Flowers is fifteen in 1978 when her free-spirited mother dumps her in Possum Flats, Missouri. It's a town that sounds like roadkill and, in Daisy's eyes, is every bit as dead. Sentenced to spend the summer living with her grandmother, the wry and irreverent town mortician, Daisy draws the line at working for the family business, Flowers Funeral Home. Instead, she maneuvers her way into an internship at the local newspaper where, sorting through the basement archives, she learns of a mysterious tragedy from fifty years earlier...
On a sweltering, terrible night in 1928, an explosion at the local dance hall left dozens of young people dead, shocking and scarring a town that still doesn't know how or why it happened. Listed among the victims is a name that's surprisingly familiar to Daisy, revealing an irresistible family connection to this long-ago accident.
Obsessed with investigating the horrors and heroes of that night, Daisy soon discovers Possum Flats holds a multitude of secrets for a small town. And hardly anyone who remembers the tragedy is happy to have some teenaged hippie asking questions about it - not the fire-and-brimstone preacher who found his calling that tragic night; not the fed-up police chief; not the mayor's widow or
his mistress; not even Daisy's own grandmother, a woman who's never been afraid to raise eyebrows in the past, whether it's for something she's worn, sworn, or done for a living.
Some secrets are guarded by the living, while others are kept by the dead, but as buried truths gradually come into the light, they'll force a reckoning at last. Inspired by the true story of the Bond Dance Hall explosion, a tragedy that took place in the author's hometown of West Plains, Missouri on April 13, 1928. The cause of the blast has never been determined.
About the Author
Michelle Collins Anderson grew up on a farm in the Missouri Ozarks -- a place and a way of life that has shaped her writing. She has a Bachelor of Journalism (complete with internship at her tiny hometown paper) and an MFA from Warren Wilson College. She's been an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri and Stephens College, taught creative writing at her local elementary school, and served on the board of The Missouri Review. Her short fiction has appeared in Nimrod International Journal, Literal Latté, Midwestern Gothic, Elder Mountain: A Journal of Ozarks Studies, Bosque, The Lascaux Review, Pooled Ink, and Storied Hills: An Anthology of Contemporary Ozark Fiction, alongside several of her Ozark writing heroes including Daniel Woodrell. She lives in St. Louis and can be found online at MichelleAnderson.me.
Praise for Michelle Collins Anderson:
"Anderson weaves a rich and poignant tale of a small Ozarks town's factual tragedy, its generational secrets and the juxtapose of searching and belonging. Vivid and evocative, this is a debut to savor." --Kim Michele Richardson
, New York Times
bestselling author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
series on The Flowers Sisters
"Michelle writes stories with a big heart, on family and human relationships and the inevitability of change and loss." --David Haynes
, author of The Full Matilda