The Winters in Bloom
Lisa Tucker
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Buy *The Winters in Bloom* by Lisa Tucker online

The Winters in Bloom
Lisa Tucker
288 pages
September 2011
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Although I sensed from the outset that I consistently misunderstood the threads that tie this story together, I was still deeply moved by Tuckerís realistic examination of family and marriage. Like delicate snowdrops falling over the forest, Tucker's heavy and contained drama transforms into something liquid, giving an unpredicted piquancy to her overriding themes.

Michael lives with his parents, David and Kyra, in a ďhouse full of doubt.Ē Chronically afraid, both David and Kyra are convinced they have failed as parents. Consumed with their sonís health, they tenaciously watch his every step and chronicle his every action. Michael knows heís isnít supposed to talk to strangers, but when the lady says sheís a friend, Michael is seduced by her car full of toys.

David and Kyra canít quite believe their son has been snatched from the backyard. Almost at once, the police investigation turns to Davidís ex-wife, Courtney, despite David telling the detectives that Courtney had no reason to take Michael--indeed, David hasnít had contact with Courtney in years. The boyís kidnapping takes its toll, his disappearance revealing David and Kyraís years of unrelenting self-doubt over their ability to function as parents.

In graceful, introspective tones, Tucker details each character's backstory. As different as they are, each has one common over-arching issue: coming to terms with the consequences of the past. While Kyraís intricate logic puzzles act as thematic cement, binding the story together, the symbolic pot at the end of the rainbow is each character coming to an understanding of how fragile their happiness really is.

The family emergency--Michael's disappearance--brings Davidís mother, Sandra, and his ex-wife tumbling back into his and Kyraís lives. We learn of Kyra's teenage years, of her sister Amy and a mother who abandoned them along with an emotionally diffident father. Amy, the more rebellious sister, wanted to sing in a rock band and have sex too early, but both girls harbored the dream of going to college together. Amyís sudden vanishing act becomes a catalyst for Tuckerís intense exploration of unconditional sibling love.

Sandra, a geriatric nurse, must comfort her David. Her failure to save her son from his first marriage is a weight she carries on her back, the guilt aging her over the years. While David embarks on his mission to find delicate Michael, Courtney retreats. Emotionally scarred, sheís caught up in a whirlwind of office politics. With her fidgety fingers and bitten-down nails, she visits a psychic. The womanís vague predictions that a mysterious person will enter her life provide Courtney with a sign of things to come.

Peppered throughout are the emotional missives of a young girl. Moving from David and Kyraís fanatical search for Michael, the novelís point of view subtly shifts, focusing instead on this girlís baffling connection to the Winter family. Sandra must learn to accept the wall that David has put up between them, while Courtney tries to work though her devastating loss. Only Kyra seems capable of adapting to the evolving family dynamic.

Tender and intuitive, there are no easy answers here, although the Winters do bloom in spite of the odds, even exceeding expectations as they work together to achieve a deeper understanding of themselves and of each other.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Leonard, 2011

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