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In Leaning on Air, author Cheryl Grey Bostrom continues the stories of Celia Burke and Burnaby Hayes, who were introduced in her debut award-winning novel, Sugar Birds.

It’s 1997, 12 years after Celia and Burnaby’s last encounter. Celia, working as an ornithologist, injures herself along a country road in Northwest Washington state. When Burnaby unexpectedly stops to help her, Celia doesn’t recognize him at first. When she does, she’s surprised at his seeming transformation. Assuming from her past encounters with him that Burnaby is on the autism spectrum, Celia asks him if he is cured and how he changed. Burnaby explains that he has no desire to be cured and that, with the help of a good friend and a transforming relationship with his Maker, he learned to cope with the pressures of societal expectations so challenging for a person on the autism spectrum.

As Celia and Burnaby gradually share their life and career stories—Burnaby is now a veterinary surgeon—they realize that, though they are very different from each other, they are willing to learn how to love each other. Though Celia craves physical touch and Burnaby is repelled by it, they find a way forward and marry.

Ten years later, 39-year-old Celia is pregnant after having two miscarriages. When a hike to a red-tailed hawk's nest she’s been researching leads to tragedy, Celia blames herself and is convinced that Burnaby does the same. Guilt and anger, as well as the death of a person she’s been negatively affected by, lead Celia into a new relationship and a surprising safe haven in Washington’s Palouse region. But at what cost? Can her marriage to Burnaby survive? Since it involves so many challenges and takes so much emotional energy, does she even want it to?

When Burnaby follows Celia to her safe haven, the two find in the community they encounter an “entanglement” that Burnaby is sure is a gift from the Maker whom he and others who live there worship. Celia, wounded by past relationships, initially resists capitulation to Burnaby’s God, convinced that surrender is “dangerous to survival.”

When the community experiences suspicious events, dangerous happenings, and numerous accidents, Celia’s struggles are exacerbated. But a mute boy, an injured red-tailed hawk, and a wild prairie, destroyed by fire, then rejuvenated, birth hope in Celia—hope for her marriage and family, and an understanding, as Burnaby tells her, that God “is for us.”

In this novel for adults, author Cheryl Grey Bostrom masterfully employs avian metaphors and skillfully weaves biblical themes of redemption, grace, and creation renewal throughout the narrative. Leaning on Air—a must read!—is by turns achingly painful and powerfully joyful as Grey Bostrom paints a compelling portrait of the beauty and challenges of Celia and Burnaby’s unique romance and marriage, and subtly points to the Maker and sustainer of all things, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:3). (Tyndale House Publishers)

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