Reviews and blurbs for Sisters of the Undertow are circulating and praising Johnnie Bernhard for another gripping novel. It explores the sibling bond, or lack thereof, between Kim and Kathy Hodges who are sixteen months apart in ages. Their parents are a Houston, Texas middle class couple who welcomed perfectly healthy Kim with joy, but after multiple miscarriages, Kathy was born prematurely and destined for a life of cognitive and physical disabilities.
In a family of two or more kids, who among us does not know about sibling rivalry, or at least, comparisons? In the Hodges family, Kim is recognized as gifted in school, while Kathy is a special education student. Kim experiences elitism and is embarrassed by her sister’s social status. As the girls are coming of age, the distance between them increases, supposedly, with more benefits going to Kim. But whose life is better and who’s more content?
In Sisters of the Undertow, the reader is immersed in this heart-tugging family drama that crosses into unexpected territories, shaping and re-shaping the lives of the siblings for five decades. When they are faced with life and death decisions during Hurricane Harvey, the connotations of “lucky” and “unlucky” are examined and applied to each sister’s life and how each has been perceived.
Johnnie Bernhard is also the author of A Good Girl that was shortlisted in the 2015 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition. Her second novel, How We Came to Be, was named a “Must Read” by Southern Writers Magazine. Both books have received numerous accolades that are mentioned on Johnnie’s About Me page on her website, including Sisters of the Undertow as a selection for panel discussion at the 2020 AWP National Conference.
Book Clubs: Book discussion questions are on the site. Plus, Johnnie can be contacted to schedule a Skype chat!
A former English teacher and journalist, Johnnie Bernhard’s confident voice and personality can be heard on LA Talk Radio – The Writer’s Block. She discusses Sisters of the Undertow (no spoilers) with her hosts, along with her writing process, tips, and suggestions, which Johnnie generously supplies to her readers on many of her blog posts, too. When Johnnie isn’t writing good southern literature, she’s busy as the owner of Bernhard Editorial Services, LLC.
Johnnie, I love your postcard choice! It took me straight to the entire poem by Langston Hughes, The Negro Speaks of Rivers. What an American literary treasure he was, and posthumously, continues to be. Thank you for sending it for my collection, and for your tribute to readers and authors. 🙂