Born in Alberta, Canada; married; children: two sons, a step-on, and a stepdaughter.
Writer. Formerly worked in sales and business management.
The Tin Box, Forge Books (New York, NY), 2005.
The Penny Tree, New American Library Accent (New York, NY), 2007.
Holly Kennedy was one of the selected writers who traveled to Belize in 2000 to participate in the Francis Ford Coppola Writers Workshop. The short story she submitted to gain entry into the exclusive workshop was later expanded and turned into her first novel. Published in 2005, The Tin Box marks Kennedy's publishing debut. The novel introduces Kenly Lowen, a woman who hides a deep secret in her tin box. During her youth, she lived a nomadic life with her alcoholic father as he moved from job to job. Eventually they settle in Athabasca, a town in rural Alberta, Canada, and she befriends feisty Lexie and wiser-than-his-age Tommy, who lives with a facial disfigurement. When Kenly's father commits suicide, Tommy's mother takes her in. Kenly and Tommy grow closer and, just before he goes off to college, they lose their virginity in his tree house. Soon after, Kenly meets Ross and they also have sex. When she discovers she is pregnant, they marry. Kenly knows, however, that her child was conceived by Tommy and she must confront her husband with the truth. BookLoons contributor Hilary Williamson said the novel "is a beautiful story, full of surprises, that will take you through at least one full box of tissues." Writing in the Romantic Times, Sheri Melnick noted that "the author creatively uses flashbacks as she effortlessly plots this heartwarming novel." A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that "the novel's moving conclusion is a testament to love and forgiveness."
Two years later Kennedy published her second novel, The Penny Tree. Annie Hillman, going through a divorce, moves back to her hometown of Eagan's Point, Washington, after losing her job in Seattle. Her younger son, Eric, has been quite ill. Meanwhile, her thirteen-year-old son, Luke, is skipping class and prefers to live with his father. Annie becomes a local celebrity when a mystery man continuously runs ads in the local paper claiming that she is the love of his life. Unable to discover the man's identity, Annie eventually confronts him on a local talk show. During all her stress, Annie finds solace by going back to a large tree to which she and her father nailed a penny once during previous hard times. Patty Engelmann, writing in Booklist, thought that this "heartrending story about love and family will touch readers' hearts and bring tears to their eyes." In a Palo Alto Daily News review, Terri Schlichenmeyer concluded that "if you want a good novel to tuck in your purse or suitcase, … grab this one. Reading The Penny Tree just makes cents."
Kennedy told CA: "I have wanted to be an author since I was ten years old and I never let go of that dream.
"People and the commonality of our struggles [influence my work]. We all experience grief, joy, shame, humiliation, rage, and ultimately our lives also have many ‘secrets’ hidden away from the rest of the world, and that's where I believe the best stories are found."
When asked to describe her writing process, Kennedy said: "It's painful. I write, rewrite, rewrite some more, and then rewrite it all over again. However, that said, before I begin a book, I always know the beginning and the end.
"[I've learned] to trust myself. The moment I second-guess my ability to tell a story, it all goes south."
When asked which of her books is her favorite, Kennedy said: "It's always ‘the next one’ because I feel a certain tug toward the stories I have tucked away in my mind that have yet to be told.
"I want to make people laugh and cry. I'm honored when someone e-mails to tell me my work really touched them in some way."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2007, Patty Engelmann, review of The Penny Tree, p. 55.
Palo Alto Daily News, June 15, 2007, Terri Schlichenmeyer, review of The Penny Tree.
Publishers Weekly, August 22, 2005, review of The Tin Box, p. 36; October 30, 2006, review of The Penny Tree, p. 31.
Best Reviews,http://thebestreviews.com/ (May 27, 2007), Harriet Klausner, review of The Penny Tree.
BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (August 22, 2007), Hilary Williamson, review of The Tin Box.
Holly Kennedy Home Page,http://www.hollykennedy.com (August 22, 2007), author biography.
Holly Kennedy Web log,http://author-in-the-trenches.blogspot.com (August 22, 2007), author profile.
January Magazine,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (August 22, 2007), Cherie Thiessen, review of The Tin Box.
Romantic Times,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (August 22, 2007), Sheri Melnick, reviews of The Tin Box and The Penny Tree.