Snow Out of Season


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Mountainview Books


ISBN: 2940157896270


Two pregnant women, separated by time, each face a decision that could change the future ... and the past ... forever.

Shannon Henry is just starting to put her life back together after the death of her infant daughter when she discovers she’s pregnant again. Afraid of losing another baby, she hides the news from her husband Wade. When her doctor presents her with the choice of either raising a child with Down syndrome or terminating the pregnancy, Shannon is torn.

Then things strangely start going missing. Their wedding picture. A bracelet with charms for their three children. Wade’s clothes on the floor which she’s always complained about. And why is she having nightmares about losing her husband?

Leslie Gardner is a high-school senior in 1978 who dreams of becoming a professional ballerina. Then she discovers she’s pregnant too. If she keeps the baby, her chances of a dancing career and college are probably over. But if she secretly has an abortion like her boyfriend wants, her life can go on as planned.

While Shannon wrestles with her sanity, Leslie struggles with whether to tell her parents. Each must make a decision that could change the future, and the past, forever.

#1 Amazon Bestseller • Library Journal’s Christian Fiction Debut of the Month (Nov. 2015)

Reviews for Snow Out of Season...

“The story caught me with characters so real I feel I might see them on the street, and it held me with breathtakingly clever storytelling.”

~ Sandra Byrd, bestselling author of To Die For and Mist of Midnight

“Brunke deftly weaves Shannon and Leslie’s stories to create an astonishing tale with a gratifying ending. The author’s skill at crafting sympathetic protagonists and lively accessible prose helps to make the emotionally intense story line completely engrossing.”

~ Library Journal, Starred Review

“…a beautifully poignant and much-needed story. From the first page until the last, you’ll be drawn into the characters’ lives.”

~ Brandy Vallance, award-winning author of The Covered Deep

“From the very first page of Snow Out of Season, I was pulled into the story and captivated by the author’s ability to express the depth of pain a parent feels when losing a child . . . Snow Out of Season allows one to see the difficulty of making choices and how making those choices can bring different results, results that can change the lives and futures of others forever.”

~ Connie Gibson, author, international speaker, and award-winning English professor

“A compelling read with a twist! Author Christy Brunke’s skillful telling of a unique story gets five stars from me! The tension kept me turning the pages way past my bedtime.”

~Clarice G. James, award-winning author of Double Header

“Every woman–from 13-90–should read it. Church youth pastors should have it on their shelves. Mothers should read it with their daughters and fathers with their sons.”

~Linda Brooks Davis, award-winning author of The Calling of Ella McFarland

“The story caught me with characters so real I feel I might see them on the street, and it held me with breathtakingly clever storytelling.”

~ Sandra Byrd, bestselling author of To Die For and Mist of Midnight

“Brunke deftly weaves Shannon and Leslie’s stories to create an astonishing tale with a gratifying ending. The author’s skill at crafting sympathetic protagonists and lively accessible prose helps to make the emotionally intense story line completely engrossing.”

~ Library Journal, Starred Review

“…a beautifully poignant and much-needed story. From the first page until the last, you’ll be drawn into the characters’ lives.”

~ Brandy Vallance, award-winning author of The Covered Deep

“From the very first page of Snow Out of Season, I was pulled into the story and captivated by the author’s ability to express the depth of pain a parent feels when losing a child . . . Snow Out of Season allows one to see the difficulty of making choices and how making those choices can bring different results, results that can change the lives and futures of others forever.”

~ Connie Gibson, author, international speaker, and award-winning English professor

“A compelling read with a twist! Author Christy Brunke’s skillful telling of a unique story gets five stars from me! The tension kept me turning the pages way past my bedtime.”

~Clarice G. James, award-winning author of Double Header

“Every woman–from 13-90–should read it. Church youth pastors should have it on their shelves. Mothers should read it with their daughters and fathers with their sons.”

~Linda Brooks Davis, award-winning author of The Calling of Ella McFarland

“The story caught me with characters so real I feel I might see them on the street, and it held me with breathtakingly clever storytelling.”

~ Sandra Byrd, bestselling author of To Die For and Mist of Midnight

“Brunke deftly weaves Shannon and Leslie’s stories to create an astonishing tale with a gratifying ending. The author’s skill at crafting sympathetic protagonists and lively accessible prose helps to make the emotionally intense story line completely engrossing.”

~ Library Journal, Starred Review

“…a beautifully poignant and much-needed story. From the first page until the last, you’ll be drawn into the characters’ lives.”

~ Brandy Vallance, award-winning author of The Covered Deep

“From the very first page of Snow Out of Season, I was pulled into the story and captivated by the author’s ability to express the depth of pain a parent feels when losing a child . . . Snow Out of Season allows one to see the difficulty of making choices and how making those choices can bring different results, results that can change the lives and futures of others forever.”

~ Connie Gibson, author, international speaker, and award-winning English professor

“A compelling read with a twist! Author Christy Brunke’s skillful telling of a unique story gets five stars from me! The tension kept me turning the pages way past my bedtime.”

~Clarice G. James, award-winning author of Double Header

“Every woman–from 13-90–should read it. Church youth pastors should have it on their shelves. Mothers should read it with their daughters and fathers with their sons.”

~Linda Brooks Davis, award-winning author of The Calling of Ella McFarland

“The story caught me with characters so real I feel I might see them on the street, and it held me with breathtakingly clever storytelling.”

~ Sandra Byrd, bestselling author of To Die For and Mist of Midnight

“Brunke deftly weaves Shannon and Leslie’s stories to create an astonishing tale with a gratifying ending. The author’s skill at crafting sympathetic protagonists and lively accessible prose helps to make the emotionally intense story line completely engrossing.”

~ Library Journal, Starred Review

“…a beautifully poignant and much-needed story. From the first page until the last, you’ll be drawn into the characters’ lives.”

~ Brandy Vallance, award-winning author of The Covered Deep

“From the very first page of Snow Out of Season, I was pulled into the story and captivated by the author’s ability to express the depth of pain a parent feels when losing a child . . . Snow Out of Season allows one to see the difficulty of making choices and how making those choices can bring different results, results that can change the lives and futures of others forever.”

~ Connie Gibson, author, international speaker, and award-winning English professor

“A compelling read with a twist! Author Christy Brunke’s skillful telling of a unique story gets five stars from me! The tension kept me turning the pages way past my bedtime.”

~Clarice G. James, award-winning author of Double Header

“Every woman–from 13-90–should read it. Church youth pastors should have it on their shelves. Mothers should read it with their daughters and fathers with their sons.”

~Linda Brooks Davis, award-winning author of The Calling of Ella McFarland

“The story caught me with characters so real I feel I might see them on the street, and it held me with breathtakingly clever storytelling.”

~ Sandra Byrd, bestselling author of To Die For and Mist of Midnight

“Brunke deftly weaves Shannon and Leslie’s stories to create an astonishing tale with a gratifying ending. The author’s skill at crafting sympathetic protagonists and lively accessible prose helps to make the emotionally intense story line completely engrossing.”

~ Library Journal, Starred Review

“…a beautifully poignant and much-needed story. From the first page until the last, you’ll be drawn into the characters’ lives.”

~ Brandy Vallance, award-winning author of The Covered Deep

“From the very first page of Snow Out of Season, I was pulled into the story and captivated by the author’s ability to express the depth of pain a parent feels when losing a child . . . Snow Out of Season allows one to see the difficulty of making choices and how making those choices can bring different results, results that can change the lives and futures of others forever.”

~ Connie Gibson, author, international speaker, and award-winning English professor

“A compelling read with a twist! Author Christy Brunke’s skillful telling of a unique story gets five stars from me! The tension kept me turning the pages way past my bedtime.”

~Clarice G. James, award-winning author of Double Header

“Every woman–from 13-90–should read it. Church youth pastors should have it on their shelves. Mothers should read it with their daughters and fathers with their sons.”

~Linda Brooks Davis, award-winning author of The Calling of Ella McFarland

“The story caught me with characters so real I feel I might see them on the street, and it held me with breathtakingly clever storytelling.”

~ Sandra Byrd, bestselling author of To Die For and Mist of Midnight

“Brunke deftly weaves Shannon and Leslie’s stories to create an astonishing tale with a gratifying ending. The author’s skill at crafting sympathetic protagonists and lively accessible prose helps to make the emotionally intense story line completely engrossing.”

~ Library Journal, Starred Review

“…a beautifully poignant and much-needed story. From the first page until the last, you’ll be drawn into the characters’ lives.”

~ Brandy Vallance, award-winning author of The Covered Deep

“From the very first page of Snow Out of Season, I was pulled into the story and captivated by the author’s ability to express the depth of pain a parent feels when losing a child . . . Snow Out of Season allows one to see the difficulty of making choices and how making those choices can bring different results, results that can change the lives and futures of others forever.”

~ Connie Gibson, author, international speaker, and award-winning English professor

“A compelling read with a twist! Author Christy Brunke’s skillful telling of a unique story gets five stars from me! The tension kept me turning the pages way past my bedtime.”

~Clarice G. James, award-winning author of Double Header

“Every woman–from 13-90–should read it. Church youth pastors should have it on their shelves. Mothers should read it with their daughters and fathers with their sons.”

~Linda Brooks Davis, award-winning author of The Calling of Ella McFarland

Book Excerpt


1

Shannon: June 2014

The casket was small.

Only our three-year-old twins clinging to my legs kept me from breaking open the steel casket and taking back my baby Lily.

Scottish bagpipes played “Amazing Grace” accompanied by whimpers.

Friends and family tossed Stargazer lilies onto Lily’s grave and walked back to their lives. Back to their homes. Back to their children.

An empty crib awaited Wade and me.

I buried my nose in the white flower and inhaled the sweet-scented petals, soft as Lily’s skin. A sob escaped, giving way to a barrage of salty tears.

Thunder blasted a warning just before the heavens poured.

Wade, his strong hand gripping mine, turned to go.

No. I dug my heels in. I won’t leave her.

A swan gliding across the cemetery lake paused to let her little ones climb aboard and then secured them beneath her wings.

I wrapped my arms around Katy and Daniel to shelter them. If only I could shield them from the pain. Awaken Lily. Erase the loss from Wade’s red eyes.

But my arms weren’t big enough.

I sent Wade and the twins to the car and turned back to the grave.

A cemetery worker cranked a metal handle that lowered Lily into the pit. Rain drummed the coffin as he shoveled earth on top of her. Every thud screamed “Never.”

I’d never hold her again, her warm cheek pressed to mine.

Never win another slobbery kiss.

Never feel her little hand wrapped around my finger.

Never hear her belly laugh tickling my heart.

Tombstones reeled around me, and lightning slashed the sky. I staggered backwards and crumpled into the mud.

Wade ran back and knelt beside me, enveloping me in his arms. We wept together, our tears blending with the rain.

The cemetery worker threw the last heap of dirt over Lily, nodded at us, and hurried on his way.

I glanced back at our minivan—the only car still parked by the gravesite.

“Don’t worry about the kids,” Wade said, reading my thoughts. “I sent them home with my parents.” He rose and pulled me up with him.

With one last glance at the ground that held our daughter, we trudged back to our car and the infant seat without an infant.

Wade swallowed hard. “I’ll . . .” He cleared his throat and choked out, “I’ll take that out tomorrow.”

I gazed out the window, but the storm blurred my view. Wade had always said he wanted a big family. And maybe he still did. But I couldn’t kiss another baby good-bye when she’d just begun to live.

2

Shannon: August 2014

Two pink lines appeared, but all I saw was gray.

I dropped the pregnancy test into the trash can where it landed with a clank. I winced. Did Wade hear? Sourness tainted my mouth as I buried the stick and its packaging under a pile of tissues.

Back in our room, I curled up on our bed and pulled my knees to my chest. A whiff of spit-up struck me. I jerked away. I must not have washed these jeans since Lily died. My eyes stung, but I pressed my face into the smell—the last I had of her—and inhaled. Memories rushed at me, tumbling one on top of another, until I wasn’t sure where to look or what to feel next.

“Remember me,” Lily seemed to be saying.

My gaze fell on a picture of her on our nightstand. At three months old, she wore a ruffled swimsuit, her arms and legs stretched out as if making a snow angel. Her raised eyebrows and the spark in her eyes said, “Look, Mommy! I’m so big!”

My chin quivered. How could we have another child after the way she died?

“Mommy?” Katy called from down the hall. “I can’t find Rabbit.”

My daughter’s voice stirred me back to the present. Back to Wade’s birthday. We needed to leave for his party in fifteen minutes, and I wanted to paint Katy’s nails and finish my face. I swiped at my tears, threw on a smile, and hurried to the twins’ room. “Can you take Piglet instead?”

“Mommy.” Katy shook her head as if I’d suggested one plus one equaled three. “Snow White sings to bunnies, not pigs.”

“What was I thinking?” I knelt before Katy and drank in every beautiful curve of her face. Kissing her cheek, I made a mental note to buy her a Snow White costume. With her dark hair, bright eyes, and long lashes, she’d look just like her favorite Disney princess. I took her hand and stood. “Let’s go find him.”