Hamline News

5 Finalists in 5 Days: Current MFA Student Kimberly J. Brown

Kimberly Brown 375

Current MFA student, Kimberly J. Brown’s The I-35W Bridge Collapse: A Survivor’s Account of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure from Potomac Books/University of Nebraska Press is nominated for a Minnesota Book Award in the category of Memoir & Creative Nonfiction.


Kimberly is an IT technical writer and is expected to graduate with her MFA in creative writing from Hamline in spring 2020. On August 1, 2007, she was one of the 180 people on the I-35W bridge when it collapsed. She is now an outspoken advocate for victims and survivors of the collapsed bridge. Her other creative work has appeared in a variety of publications and she was a Loft Mentor Series winner for creative nonfiction in 2010. She lives in Minneapolis.


“A bridge shouldn’t just fall down,” Senator Amy Klobuchar said after the August 1, 2007, collapse of the Minneapolis I-35W eight-lane steel truss bridge, which killed 13 motorists, injured 145, and left a collective wound on the city’s psyche and infrastructure.

On her way to a soccer game with a fellow teammate, Kimberly J. Brown experienced the collapse firsthand, falling 114 feet in her teammate’s car to the Mississippi River. Although terrified, injured, and in shock, she survived. In this sobering memoir and exposé, Brown recounts her harrowing experience.

In the aftermath of the disaster, Brown became both an advocate for survivors and an unofficial whistle-blower about decaying infrastructure. She details her investigation and correspondence with Thornton Tomasetti engineers, including the false official account of the collapse and the eventual revelation of its real causes. In addition, she chronicles the ongoing decay of America’s bridges and the continuing challenges faced by leaders to address infrastructure problems across the country.

After nearly a decade of research into the collapse and her active and ongoing recovery from psychic and physical injuries, Brown shares her experience and answers the questions we should all be asking: Why did this bridge collapse? And what could have been done to prevent this tragedy?

Buy it Here


All over the country people were shocked and horrified as we watched the bridge fall. Most of us went on with our lives, but Kimberly Brown’s first-person account as witness and survivor of the bridge collapse takes us deep into the emotional terrain of that day, and the years that followed; she also shares with her readers her investigation into the causes. A riveting story, powerfully told.”
—Deborah Keenan, retired creative writing program faculty emeritus at Hamline University and author of Willow Room, Green Door: New and Selected Poems

“This is the most important book you will read this year. Kimberly Brown gets us by the collar and doesn’t let us turn away, writing with lyric power about her experience surviving the I-35W bridge collapse. Her urgent search for the truth behind the 2007 collapse is mirrored by her own collapse and a revelatory portrait of living with PTSD. . .. How she repairs and what she uncovers will, justly, keep you up at night.”
—Patricia Weaver Francisco, author of Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery

“Brown tells an honest and compelling story. . . . Throughout, Brown makes a passionate plea to lawmakers and citizens nationwide to pay attention to our country’s deteriorating bridges.”
—Lynne Diebel, author of Crossing the Driftless

Pioneer Press feature on “The I-35W Bridge Collapse”


The Minnesota Book Awards is a year-long program that fosters our statewide literary arts community and connects readers and writers throughout Minnesota.

The process begins in the fall with book submissions and continues through winter with two rounds of judging. Winners are announced at the annual Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony each spring. Woven throughout the season are various engagement activities and events that promote the authors and connect the world of Minnesota books – writers, artists, illustrators, publishers, editors, and more – to readers throughout the state.

Tickets on sale here

Congratulations, Kimberly!