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The Winters in Bloom

The Winters in Bloom

3.4 19
by Lisa Tucker

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In bestselling author Lisa Tucker’s latest, a family discovers that it’s only when the walls between the present and past crumble that the future can bloom.

Together for over a decade, Kyra and David Winter are happier than they ever thought they could be. They have a comfortable home, stable careers, and a young son, Michael, who they


In bestselling author Lisa Tucker’s latest, a family discovers that it’s only when the walls between the present and past crumble that the future can bloom.

Together for over a decade, Kyra and David Winter are happier than they ever thought they could be. They have a comfortable home, stable careers, and a young son, Michael, who they love more than anything. Yet because of their complicated histories, Kyra and David have always feared that this domestic bliss couldn’t last - that the life they created was destined to be disrupted. And on one perfectly average summer day, it is: Michael disappears from his own backyard.

The only question is whose past has finally caught up with them: David feels sure that Michael was taken by his troubled ex-wife, while Kyra believes the kidnapper must be someone from her estranged family, someone she betrayed years ago.

As the Winters embark on a journey of time and memory to find Michael, they will be forced to admit these suspicions, revealing secrets about themselves they’ve always kept hidden. But they will also have a chance to discover that it’s not too late to have the family they’ve dreamed of; that even if the world is full of risks, as long as they have hope, the future can bloom.

Lyrical, wise, and witty, The Winters in Bloom is Lisa Tucker’s most optimistic work to date. This enchanting, life-affirming story will charm readers and leave them full of wonder at the stubborn strength of the human heart.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Few contemporary novelists come close to understanding families in trouble with the insight and compassion of Lisa Tucker.” —Pat Conroy, New York Times bestselling author of South of Broad and Beach Music

“In The Winters in Bloom the ties that bind are expertly knotted. With many twists, secrets, and unexpected turns, Lisa Tucker proves that sometimes these ties are wholly unbreakable. They can survive time, loss, longing—even our greatest fears—and they endure because love endures.” —Julianna Baggott, author of Girl Talk

“Lisa Tucker weaves together multiple perspectives to give us a novel rife with human entanglements of every variety . . . Most moving is the story of Kyra and David as they face the struggles every parent will recognize: how to take care of someone in a world as dangerous as it is beautiful; how to choose—daily, deliberately—joy over fear.” —Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling author of Belong to Me

“Brilliant, tender, and riveting. Reading The Winters in Bloom is like falling into some beguiling dream, one you don’t want to wake from. Lisa Tucker has not described a world; she has created one unlike any you’ve never seen. She has breathed life into her characters, and they will breathe life into you.” —John Dufresne, author of Requiem, Mass.

“The author cleverly imparts life lessons through the tale of one family.” —RT Book Reviews

"Fast-paced page-turner." —Library Journal

Library Journal
Tucker's sixth novel (after The Promised World) features Kyra and David Winter, the loving parents of young Michael. Their overprotectiveness seems to stifle their coddled, homeschooled child, who yearns for a glimpse of something outside his home. When the doting Kyra momentarily takes her eyes off Michael, he vanishes from their backyard. As the police question the parents, disturbing secrets from their former lives are slowly revealed. Both parents are convinced the kidnapper is an estranged family member or ex-spouse, and what began as a story of the challenges of modern parenting very quickly becomes a tale of troubled pasts. One fact is certain: the Winters' comfortable home life will never be the same. VERDICT This fast-paced page-turner may satisfy some readers, but others will want more information about Kyra and David's complicated histories. Still, Tucker's suspenseful novels are popular, so this family story is recommended with reservations. Indeed, if the characters had been more fully developed, the novel would have blossomed. [See Prepub Alert, 2/28/11.]—Andrea Tarr, Corona P.L., CA

Product Details

Atria Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

He was the only child in a house full of doubt. In bed each night, though it wasn’t dark—the floor lights his father had installed—and it wasn’t entirely private—the nursery monitor both parents refused to give up—he rehearsed the things he was certain of, using his fingers to number them. He was just a little boy, but he wouldn’t allow himself to sleep until he’d gone through both hands twice. Twenty was a good number, he thought, though of course it paled in comparison with the number of doubts, partly because his parents had had so many years to discover them, but mainly because the doubt list was always growing, towering above him like the giant boy at his old school, the one his father had called a bully. The giant boy, whose name was Paul, had never done anything to Michael, but his parents doubted that Michael could learn in such an environment and took him out of that school. The three schools that followed had led to three other doubts, and now Michael was finishing first grade in home school, even though homeschooling had its doubts, too. I doubt he’ll get the socialization he needs, his mother said. I doubt we can teach him laboratory science, his father said, but we’ll have to deal with that when the time comes. And then the words his parents didn’t have to say—if the time comes—because the future was always the biggest doubt of all.

“I will get bigger.” Michael whispered it every night, holding up his thumb. Then he said, touching his index finger, “I will not die before I get to drive a car.” He would force himself not to think of all the ways he could die, the hundreds of things his parents had told him all his life. He would also force himself not to daydream about what his first car would be like, because then he would fall asleep before he finished his counting and dream about rows and rows of shiny cars, all with headlights that looked like eyes and grills that looked like mouths.

In the morning, he was often very tired. When he slumped down for breakfast, his mother would put her hand on his forehead and ask if he was feeling okay. He hardly ever got sick, except when he was two years old and then he was so sick he had to spend weeks in the hospital, though all he remembered about that now was the pattern of elephants and monkeys on the nurses’ clothes. His mother always made him touch his chin to his chest, even if he told her his neck didn’t hurt. Sometimes she would take his temperature and inspect his throat and ears with a flashlight and push on his belly to make sure his appendix wasn’t about to burst. Only after she was satisfied that he wasn’t coming down with something would she ask, “Did you have any nightmares?”

He used to tell her, but he’d stopped when he realized that she and his father discussed his dreams the same way they discussed all the books they were reading about Raising Your Gifted Child. So he didn’t tell her about the dream he kept having where the ocean came up to his bedroom window and he jumped in a boat and floated off. He only thought of it as a nightmare because he knew it should have been scary—if he was alone in the boat, this meant his parents must have drowned. In real life, he would have cried and cried for his parents: their love for him was one of the things he was most certain of; it was always somewhere in the first five things he counted every night. But in the dream, it never occurred to him to wonder where they were. He was sitting on a flat wooden seat in the middle of the boat, listening to the sound of the water lapping against the sides, blinking at the sun hanging so low in the sky it looked like he could row right to it. He felt like the biggest, scariest parts of the world were all gone, washed away by something that was winking at him in the soft fat cloud that floated overhead.

The lady who appeared that day was like the cloud, though she wasn’t fat and she wasn’t at all soft. Her arms were so skinny that when she bent her elbows, Michael thought of the paper clips he liked to twist apart when he was supposed to be learning geography. He didn’t really like geography, though he loved the maps hung up in the room where he studied—the schoolroom, his parents called it, though it was nothing like school, because there was only one desk. The map of the city was right in front of him, and he’d stared at it so many times that he knew the lady wasn’t lying when she said she was taking him to the ocean. He’d always wanted to go there, but his father said a jellyfish might bite him, or he might swallow a mouthful of dirty, germy sand, or, worst of all, a tide current might pull him out to the sea and he would never, ever come back.

The lady had asked him where he wanted to go more than anywhere in the world. She was so nice to him that he felt like it might be true when she said she loved him, even though he’d never seen her in his life until that morning. He was outside the house, in the backyard. It was the second day of the outside alone half hour, which his mother had decided he needed after she read a book about letting kids be free range, like the good-for-you kind of chicken. Michael didn’t know what to do outside—his mother had told him to go ahead and do whatever he wanted, but he was afraid to touch anything, because dirt on your hands could make worms grow in your stomach, and he knew he should never climb a tree, he could fall and break his neck—so he walked around in circles and waved back each time his mother waved at him. She could see him perfectly while she did the dishes. So she must have seen the lady, and it must have been okay for him to go with her, like the lady said. It’s a surprise! Like on your birthday, except better!

He knew he wasn’t supposed to even talk to strangers, but the lady said she wasn’t a stranger. You’re my little buddy, the lady said, and she was crying, which made Michael feel bad for her. She was so skinny and sad, but in her car, she had lots of toys, just like she promised. She had toys he’d always wanted to play with, like robots with little parts that could break off and choke him, and bright red and blue and yellow cars that were probably made with lead paint. He was afraid to touch the toys at first, but then he decided that he wouldn’t choke or swallow lead paint unless the toy went in his mouth. And why would the toy go in his mouth, when it was so much more fun to move the robot arms and pretend the cars were zooming up and down his legs, like the lady’s car was zooming up the highway?

He might have had trouble believing that his parents had agreed to let the lady take him somewhere if he hadn’t overheard them just last night, talking about how they had to change. It can’t be good for him to be trapped in the house all summer. Other children are out of school, going to camp, playing with their friends. The two of us are doing our best, but it’s not enough. He needs more people in his life.

His mother was the one who’d talked the most, but his father had made noises that sounded like agreement. So this trip with the lady that his parents had planned must be like the time they replaced the entire heating system in the house, rather than trying to get the old one fixed. Sometimes you have to take extreme measures, his father had said, and then he’d explained that an extreme measure was necessary when the problem was so big, the only way to deal with it was to give up on what you’d done before and start over from square one.

Being with this lady, sitting in a regular seat in the back of her car belted in with a regular seat belt, next to another seat covered with dangerous toys he’d taken out of a dangerous plastic bag, on the way to the ocean, was definitely an extreme measure. On some level Michael felt this, but most of him was just excited. The lady was happy now, too; her laughs sounded like Christmas bells. She had a really friendly smile and nice straight teeth, but when she pushed her hair back, he noticed a big scar on her wrist, and he wondered if it hurt sometimes, the way Mommy’s scar on her knee did whenever it rained.

If they talked about anything important on the way to the Jersey Shore, Michael didn’t remember it. What he remembered—and would for the rest of his life—was that afternoon on the boat. It wasn’t a rowboat like in his dream; it was a big fishing boat with an upper deck and a lower deck and lots and lots of people. Michael was on the upper deck looking out at the wavy sea when a giant fish jumped straight out of the ocean and landed with a huge splash. It was a humpback whale, the fisherman announced, and everybody on the boat was pointing and talking when the whale jumped up again! It did it seven times, which Michael heard people say was amazing, because a lot of times these whale-watching boats went out for hours and didn’t see anything.

It’s because we’re lucky, the lady said. She pointed at the whale’s tail, which seemed to be waving before it disappeared back into the water. It likes you.

Michael closed his eyes tight, but when he opened them it was all still there: the bright blue sky and the soft pillow clouds and the endless ocean lapping at the sides of the boat. His hand was still tucked in the lady’s bony hand, and the boat hadn’t tipped over and the seagulls hadn’t pecked his eyes out and the big scary fish wasn’t really scary at all.

“It likes me,” Michael whispered; then he grinned as big as he could, in case the whale was looking up at him through the water. In case the whale was like the lady, who’d promised when she appeared in his backyard that all she wanted was to be Michael’s friend, more than anything in the world.

Meet the Author

Lisa Tucker is the bestselling author of The Promised World, The Cure for Modern Life, Once Upon a Day, Shout Down the Moon and The Song Reader. Her short work has appeared in Seventeen, Pages and The Oxford American. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family.

Brief Biography

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Place of Birth:
B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1984; M.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1987; M.A., Villanova University, 1991

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The Winters in Bloom 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
retromom More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by Lisa Tucker but won't be my last. The first part of the book caught my attention and demanded that I read on. Kyra and David Winter experience one of the the worst nightmares a parent can experience, their son, Michael is abducted. We get a glimpse of what they are going through in the beginning and also get a glimpse of Michael and his abductor although the abductor's identity remains a mystery. The book then goes into the past lives of Kyra and David. We learn how they got to be where they are today and the many people who have been a part of their lives, from Michael's ex-wife to Kyra's estranged sister to their parents. All of the people involved are very interesting characters. They are all very flawed and dysfunctional. This part of the book, while very informative, drove me crazy! It did not move fast enough for me. I wanted to know who had this young boy and why! It felt like it took forever to get Part 3 of the book where we finally learn who took Michael. Part 3 made up for the all the aggravation I felt reading the previous two parts. The suspense was intense until the end. The story is full of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end. If you like a good story about a dysfunctional family that is character driven, you may like this book. The story does bounce around a bit but if you have some patience, the ending is worth the wait.
MasonCanyon More than 1 year ago
I've always hear there are 3 sides to any problem a couple has - her side, his side and the truth. In the case of THE WINTERS IN BLOOM, the secrets each bring to their marriage creates a most unusual and very sheltered world where the truth is hard to find. David and Kyra Winters appear to be the ideal family with a bright young son, careers they enjoy, and a stable home life. However, both parents are extremely overprotective of their son, Michael, fearing something will happen to him. Then the unthinkable happens and Michael disappears from their backyard one afternoon. As the couple searches for their son, they must each revisit their own troubled past to determine if someone they betrayed has found them. Author Lisa Tucker does a wonderful job of keeping the reader guessing who is behind the kidnapping and why. In addition, her story pulls at the heartstrings reminding readers never to give up hope despite the risks of everyday life. The story is told from both the parents and a grandmother's point of view. The author makes the story flow from one to the other without problems. Though the story goes from present to the characters' past and back again, it is never confusing and the transition is smooth. Narrator Joyce Bean gives panic to the characters when needed and compassion at the difficult scenes. Her delightful voice brings the characters to life and adds depth to this intriguing story. The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker, Read by Joyce Bean, Brilliance Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1455819461, Unabridged, 7 Discs, Listening Time: 8 Hours 30 Minutes FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Review by Lisa: Kyra and David Winter seem to have the perfect life. A strong marriage, great careers and a beautiful son named Michael. On an ordinary summer day their perfect life begins to crumble when Michael disappears from their backyard. They each suspect the past they have been running from for so long has finally caught up to them. Krya and David begin to realize that in order for them to move forward, they must revisit the past they have hidden from each other. Lisa Tucker's novel The Winters in Bloom is so much more than a story about a missing child. This is a story that sheds light on the complexity and fragility of a family dealing with many issues. Parental abandonment, drug abuse, postpartum depression and guilt are just a few of the issues the Winters must confront while dealing with the heartbreaking disappearance of Michael. At times The Winters in Bloom was dark, but this is one of the best books I have read this year. The plotting with all of the twists and turns is absolutely brilliant. The character's flaws are written with such compassion and humility. Lisa Tucker weaves the secrets of the Winters family into a haunting story. The characters have stayed with me long after I finished this book. This was the first book I have read by Lisa Tucker and it certainly will not be the last. Amazing. Simply amazing. Favorite Quote: "They each came into the marriage with so many cracks inside themselves that it would have been nothing short of astonishing if having a child together had somehow sealed these cracks forever". "You had to be a mother when you didn't want to; that was how you earned the right to be one when you did".
Jenny_Geek More than 1 year ago
While this book was quite beautifully written, it was pretty depressing. Kyra and David are incredibly over-protective of their son, Michael. Which makes it ironic that he would be taken out of his own backyard. As the story delves deeper, more secrets are unraveled about Kyra and David's past. I remember thinking to myself, "Is that all their secrets are? Those aren't terrible." but by the end of the novel I was quite taken aback at what I learned. The story flips back and forth between character's points of view. Michael's point of view was by far the most interesting to me. It was very apparent just how many warnings in his life he had been given by his parents. Only 5 years old and already so cautious about life. I enjoyed the way the story slowly circled around the characters and brought the reader closer and closer to understanding things as time went on.
bookmon1 More than 1 year ago
THE WINTERS IN BLOOM by Lisa Tucker Kyra and David Winter are the epitome of "helicopter" parents. They keep their young son Michael on a very short leash with many restrictions. They even home school him after imagined issues with schools. Despite all their overprotective measures, little Michael is snatched from his own backyard the first time they decide he can play outside for a limited amount of time. Instead of calling the police, the Winters start their own investigation. They both have serious issues in their pasts that convince them they know who took their son. Author Lisa Tucker crafts a heart wrenching story that slowly reveals the layers of Kyra's and David's lives before they married. The reader is allowed to see all sides of the past which have a dramatic impact on the present. For all their flaws, there is empathy built for the characters. Even with poignant and sad situations, THE WINTERS IN BLOOM is ultimately a tale of redemption and hope. Lisa Tucker is the author of five previous novels that all pack an emotional wallop. My personal favorite is THE SONG READER. THE WINTERS IN BLOOM is a worthy addition to her body of work.
gincam More than 1 year ago
The Winters, David and Kyra, are happy being married to each other and parenting their gifted son, Michael. Their happiness is not without undercurrents, as they each have reason to fear that sudden, devastating loss may enter their lives. In some people, emotional scars are readily apparent. However, there are other people whose inner wounds continue to fester and never heal over. They may appear functional, but the turmoil inside increases in pitch until it escapes, leaving havoc in its wake. Lisa Tucker's story line for "The Winter's in Bloom" takes place in one day. Vividly told flashbacks from each of the characters explain how young Michael Winter came to disappear from his own backyard. At the end of a very long, emotionally revealing day, the resolution comes in an unexpected, hopeful manner. Learning to forgive is cleansing and cathartic. The personal spiritual freedom of letting go of long-held hurts is ultimately life-affirming. Review Copy Gratis Atria Books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic book! I got a chance to read this even though it hasn't been officially released yet. It is beautiful; so full of hope and love. I was in a sort of blue mood the day I read this and the characters just lifted me up. I read this in a day because I was interested in the story. The ending is satisfying, but I would love to stay with these people for another book! by Laurie (Santa Fe, NM)
ToReadPerchancetoDream More than 1 year ago
Winters in Bloom is a stark, realistic view of modern families. It brings up often hidden issues such as post partum depression, anxiety, parental neglect, and drug addiction. The author, Lisa Tucker, shows how these issues affect the individuals inflicted with them as well as how the family members are affected. Perhaps most powerfully, it shows how the family members can be permanently disturbed and end up passing on their troubles to their own children. This book is deep and dark, with nothing to lighten it up for the reader. Maybe because of this, I found it a very slow read. There were some places that I felt were too long, some bits that didn't really help the book could have been cut out - like the part describing Sandra's father. Having said that, I did like how parts of the story were doled out in tiny pieces, keeping me reading to find out what had actually happened. The characters were just okay. It seemed they were all beaten down by incidents in their lives, nothing particularly good happening to anyone. This felt unrealistic, and some happiness would have helped the story and the reader breathe a little. If you like darker novels with some suspense, this book is just right for you. I was given this book to review by the publisher, Atria Books, through Netgalley.
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loislegs More than 1 year ago
I found this novel hard to follow as the time periods keep changing without warning. The subject was not very interesting either.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read one or two books a week. If I read I novel I want it to be for pleasure. I found this book to be work! I decided to give up on it half way through because Courtney's second letter to her mother was too hard to follow. Then I read the customer's reviews and was intrigued. I may decide to try it again.
KathyS More than 1 year ago
The Winters In Bloom In writing this review, I have pondered over just how to begin. When I say ponder, I mean, I stayed awake thinking about this story; these characters that are as real as you and me. Do I write about me? Do I write about you? Do I write about this author? Of course not, but even if I where to write our stories, it would be just as difficult for me to describe, as it is to tell you what this story holds in their pages for all of us to see. You have to experience this novel, not just read it! We start out, one morning, seeing a little boy, standing in a wilderness of cut grass, not really knowing how to live in the world around him. The sun rises on an innocent little boy, innocent to what adults can hide; this story revolves around Michael, abducted by a stranger from his own, safe, backyard, and only knowing what his parents had taught him: be cautious of everything - worry about what might, or could, happen. He leaves with a total stranger. How can he be careful of what he has never experienced? How can he see what has never been shown to him? Who, and what can he trust? These are the scenarios we hear in his head. He meets a new world, after being taken away; it's also an evolution through time, and place, for Kyra and David, his parents. The pieces to this puzzle start to pop, like fire crackers in the night, as the scenes of the past start to take revealing shapes! A small child, a product of doting, over protective parents, is what we see----as the sun starts to set. Each of these characters's voice overlaps, their past catches up to one another...this novel tells us how revealing and important a past can be to the future, although, at times it did lose me. This story, in The Winters In Bloom, discloses buried moments in history -no different than each and every one of us, shoving something away, unsaid, or pushing something we've done, down and away, in hopes to never see those unwanted secrets surface, again. Lisa Tucker has an uncanny way of showing us our past in her novels. This one is no exception, as exceptional as it may be! We open up this book, hearing Lisa speak to us from her characters, breathing life and truth into focus by these people; to find the mysteries of the living, as well as the influences of the dead. I won't tell you the story, because it's up to you to find out where this history leads. Lisa Tucker shows us all sides to being a parent, a child, and a grandparent...and this little boy finds out just who he is, and with amazement, who his parents are and will become....to be given a world shown to him through the eyes of forgiveness and redemption.
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Humbee More than 1 year ago
The Bookish Dame Reports: With all seriousness I tell you you'll need to set aside a day with no disturbances to read this book. It's a compulsive read. Of all the contemporary novels I've read this year, this is the one that kept me on my toes. Haunting and horrifying in its sheer contemporary relevance, it just kept me reading at a pace I couldn't control. In my early mothering days, I visited my young, corporate attorney husband's office one afternoon after having a particularly trying day with my strong-willed, 5 yr. old son. I was holding back tears, only to find he was in a meeting, when his older, wiser secretary, Vida came to my rescue. Vida had been around the block a time or two. She was grey-haired, tolerated no fools and was not one to be trifled with. She sat me down and gave me the lesson of my life; one that's kept me going ever since. She said, "Listen, you can't win with what you do with your children. No matter what you do, they'll still go to the psychiatrist's office and tell him it's their mother's fault. So, just what you think's best." LOL Jewish mother advice that's been wonderful for me! In "The Winters In Bloom" we find that some of this philosophy was employed to very little avail. Mothering is in short supply. Psychological mysteries of motherhood and psychosis run rampant in this novel. From the perspectives of Kyra and Amy, two girls who were abandoned by their mother, to their niece and daughter respectively; as well as to the mystery of a young mother's death of a child, and the mother-in-law who crosses all their paths...we trace the mental anguish, complications and psychological disorders of sisterhood, being a wife, mothering and becoming a parent. The men involved in these relationships are colored by their intentions and interactions, but also are drawn with an awareness of contemporary roles and emotional integrity. Refreshing, I might add, in literature nowadays. 'though for the most part, they remain silent and uninvolved. These psychological studies, and the mystery of a child abduction that creates the tearing open of secrets everyone has worked long to cover are the crux of this novel. Through the back and forth stories of the participants in the mystery, we're given all the pieces to discern the truth, or at least their individual truths, that will lead to the child's coming home and the full circle of family. Have I said too much? I don't think so. Now you'll have to get this compelling book. You'll never be sorry you did! 5 American mothering stars Deborah/TheBookishDame
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The reviews were very positive, but I was disappointed. The writing was shallow and lacking any literary appeal. I was easily bored with the immature development of the characters and plot. I will not read anything else by this author!