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The Big Texas Read featuring Johnnie Bernhard

May 18, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm CDT

May 18th, 2022 via Zoom @ 7PM CST

Up Next: We’re reading and discussing Johnnie Bernhard’s Sisters of the Undertow. Moderated by Marjorie Herrera Lewis.


Sisters Kim and Kathy Hodges are born sixteen months apart in a middle-class existence parented by Linda and David Hodges of Houston, Texas. The happy couple welcomes their “lucky daughter” Kim, who is physically and mentally advanced. Following several miscarriages, Linda delivers “unlucky” Kathy at twenty-nine weeks, ensuring a life of cognitive and physical disabilities. Kathy enters public school as a special education student, while Kim is recognized as gifted.

Both sisters face life and death decisions as Houston is caught in the rip current of Hurricane Harvey. Kim learns the capricious nature of luck, while Kathy continues to make her own luck, surviving Hurricane Harvey, as she has survived all undertows with the ethereal courage of the resolute.

Sisters of the Undertow examines the connotations of lucky and unlucky, the complexities of sibling rivalry, and the hand fate delivers without reason.


A former English teacher and journalist, Johnnie Bernhard is passionate about reading and writing. A traditionally published author, her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines, both nationally and internationally.

A Good Girl was shortlisted in the 2015 Faulkner-Wisdom Writing Competition, one of America’s most prestigious literary awards. It is a finalist in the 2017 national Kindle Book Awards, a nominee for the Bingham Prize, a 2018 nominee for the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Fiction, and part of the permanent collection of The Texas Library Archives, Texas Center for the Book.

Johnnie’s second novel, ​How We Came to Be, was named a “Must Read” by ​Southern Writers Magazine in its March 2018 issue. It was also recognized by ​Deep South Magazine ​in its 2018 Summer Reading List and by the international Pulpwood Queen Book Club as a 2019 reading selection. It was shortlisted by the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters for 2019 Fiction of the Year, as well as the recipient of the Summerlee Book Prize, HM by the Center for History and Culture at Lamar University.​​​

Sisters of the Undertow, Johnnie’s third novel, was chosen by the Association of University Presses as one of the hundred best books published by a university press. It received first place in the Press Women of Texas annual writing competition.

Her fourth novel, HANNA AND ARIELA is set for release on August 1, 2022.


May 18, 2022
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm CDT
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