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 afolksy, 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 Woodson Harvey, 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. A graduate of the University of Missouri with a MFA from Warren Wilson College, she previously worked in advertising and public relations, taught elementary school creative writing, and was an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri and Stephens College. She serves on the board of The Missouri Review and 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, Storied Hills: An Anthology of Contemporary Ozark Fiction, and other publications. A mother of three, she lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and can be found online at MichelleAnderson.me.
Praise for Michelle Collins Anderson:
“Michelle Collins Anderson delivers what every booklover craves in her absorbing and exhilarating debut. Combined with an intriguing historical event and charismatic characters with deeply held secrets, the end result is a mesmerizing story about reconciling guilt and letting go of the past so new beginnings are possible. Anderson’s talent is undeniable and held me spellbound until the very last page.”—Donna Everhart,author of The Saints of Swallow Hill on The Flower Sisters
“A vivid blend of sensorial writing, historical detail, and memorable characters await on the pages of The Flower Sisters. Poignant, compelling, and surprising, here is an 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
"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