Husband Al knew he wouldn’t have to ask twice. He saw Lemuria Books in Jackson on Kimberly Willis Holt’s travel schedule and asked, “Do you want to go?” With a collection of her books that goes back to when I met her almost twenty years ago in her early writing years, he knew I would want the latest. Her new book, Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel, displaced books-to-be-read at the top of my stack even before I found both a normal and an unusual connection to its protagonist.
The reader gets a hint of estrangement from the beginning, “My name, Stevie Grace, was tattooed inside a giant sun on my dad’s back.” With the tattoo and the back-to-nature lifestyle lived in an abandoned church outside Taos, New Mexico, Stevie’s parents don’t fit expectations for a daughter of a conservative Texas family. Stevie remains unaware of the problem, since her parents have cut ties with home, until she is suddenly left an orphan.
Stevie Grace must go live with a grandfather she has never met in a rundown motel in Little Esther, Texas. The unusual inhabitants of the motel take a shine to her sooner than her grandfather. He holds on to some mysterious grudge that her parents had also kept secret.
Like many of her books, this one draws on Kimberly’s heritage of her grandfather’s nurseries in Forest Hill, Louisiana and her longtime residence in Texas. An important story line follows Stevie’s efforts to beautify the motel with plants out front. Her progress in dealing with her grief and finding her place in this new world are foreshadowed by the divisions of the book – Seedling, Cultivate, Sow, Transplant, and Blooming. This good read now joins its companions on my special KWH shelf.
Not to forget my links to Stevie, the usual one is a love for growing things with normal successes and failures. The unusual connection is that we both had a grandmother we never met named “Dovie.” Both her grandmother and mine (in the picture) left legacies that have influenced our lives even without their physical presence.