Her prodigal son has returned!
But has he truly left the past behind?
The police car outside triggers Alisa Stewart's worst fearher son, Kurt, is dead, his life lost forever to addiction. Instead, the officer is just following a lead on a crime. And when Kurt calls to say he's checked himself into rehab and found a healing faith, Alisa feels a hope she'd given up on.
It's like her son has been brought back from the dead.
But then the cop returns, asking dark questions about the murder of someone Kurt once knew. Alisa is terrified. Her boy is different now. He's changed and deserves a second chance. But as his old life refuses to stay buried, Alisa finds herself facing an impossible choice:
keep silent and keep her son or risk everything in a quest for the truth.
|Publisher:||Baker Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.42(h) x 0.86(d)|
About the Author
Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. Her two previous novels were Waiting for Daybreak and A Promise to Remember, which was a finalist for ACFW Book of the Year in Women's Fiction. Kathryn and her family live in Santa Barbara, California.
Read an Excerpt
By Kathryn Cushman
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2009 Kathryn Cushman
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMy son was dead. I knew it the minute I saw the black-and-white car pull to the curb in front of my house.
Clods of potting soil still clinging to my gloves-like the debris of the last few years clung to everything in my life-I turned back to my house, walked up the porch steps, opened the front door, then closed and locked it behind me. Perhaps a reasonable person would understand that the clink of the deadbolt sliding into place did nothing to stop the impending news. Well, show me the mother who thinks with reason when faced with the news that her only remaining son is dead.
I walked into my kitchen and tossed my gloves on the counter, ignoring the splatter of soil they left over what had been spotless granite. I grabbed a cup from the top shelf and shoved it against the slot in the refrigerator door, holding it in place with such force I thought the glass might shatter. Cold water filled it almost to the rim. Just taking a little break from gardening, that's what I was doing. That policeman outside had turned onto the wrong street, that's all. He had probably realized his mistake and was gone by now.
I took a seat at the kitchen table and opened the home improvement catalog that sat atop the mail pile. I thumbed mindlessly through page after pageuntil one particular ad reached out and wrapped its fingers around my throat. The boys in the photo looked nothing like Nicolas or Kurt, other than the fact that my sons had once been boys that size. Still, looking at the picture, I couldn't help but remember them as their eight- and ten-year-old selves. A smiling father held up the latest power drill beside the tree house in progress; his smiling wife stood atop the latest greatest ladder. Even the chocolate Labrador at the bottom of the picture appeared to be smiling at the two boys, who stood beside the pile of lumber. A world so full of promise.
Just like ours had once been.
The chime of the doorbell brought me back to the present. And reality. A reality I didn't want to face, but I had to. Time had just run out.
As I walked toward the front door, it occurred to me that these would be the last steps I would ever take without knowing for certain that Kurt was dead. I needed to hold on to this time for as long as I could, remember each step as something precious. One step. Two. Three ... At ten, I reached the door.
I took a deep breath and put my hand on the brass handle, still smeared with dirt from my useless attempt to shut this moment out. In spite of the fact that I didn't want it to, the lock pivoted beneath my fingers. There was no turning back now. I tugged at the front door, surprised by how heavy it felt, and then came face-to-face with my worst nightmare. Only what I saw did not match the image I had expected.
Everything about the officer's appearance surprised me. Missing was the grim undertaker expression on a face sagging with age and sorrow. At the very least, I expected a strong undercurrent of discomfort from the poor unfortunate officer saddled with delivering this kind of news. Instead, his demeanor was pleasant, almost amiable as he looked at me. His reddish hair and youthful freckles reminded me of a grown-up version of Opie from The Andy Griffith Show. "Alisa Stewart?"
I held on to the doorknob for support, waiting for the blow to come. "Yes."
"I'm Detective Bruce Thompson from the Santa Barbara Police Department." He didn't say more. I supposed he was giving me a chance to respond with some pleasantry, or to ask about the nature of his visit.
What could I possibly want to say to him? We both knew what was coming. Why would I want to ask the question that would bring on the inevitable? I simply stared at him and waited.
He shifted on his feet and finally looked down at a small pad of paper he carried in his right hand. "You are Kurt Stewart's mother. Is that correct?"
Again, he waited. His military-short haircut stood at attention, as if it, too, anxiously anticipated my response. What was he expecting? I'd answered the question; that was more than enough talk for me.
Finally, he asked, "Do you know where we might find him?"
"What?" The doorframe beside me seemed to waver. I reached my left hand to grab it for support. "You're not here to ... you're looking for him?"
He looked as confused by my response as I was surprised by his question. "Yes. Is he here?"
I turned to lean my back against the doorframe and slid to the ground.
Detective Thompson knelt beside me. "Are you all right?"
"I'm, I'm fine. It's just that, I thought you were here to tell me that he was ..." I rested my head on my knees and took deep breaths. Deep, freeing breaths.
My son was still alive.
To Detective Thompson's credit, he waited quietly beside me, giving me a chance to pull myself together without any clumsy attempts to be helpful. Finally, I looked at him and shrugged. "I thought you'd come to tell me that you'd found my son dead." How many years now had I dreaded just such a visit? To an addict's mother, it was woven into the fiber of daily existence as completely as the fragile thread of hope-and often with more clarity.
Detective Thompson rubbed his hand to his forehead. "I am so sorry. If it had occurred to me what you might think, I would have stated up front that everything was okay."
I became aware of a woman walking her golden retriever on the sidewalk across the street, eyes fixed right here on my front porch. It didn't take much of an imagination to know what kind of story this could make around the neighborhood. I stood up and gestured weakly back inside. "Would you like to come in?"
He nodded and followed me in. Whatever his reason for the visit, it didn't matter. My son was alive. "Here, let me get you some water."
A moment later we were seated at my kitchen table, the magazine still opened to the family tree house picture. I touched the face of the smallest boy, suddenly thankful for his presence.
"Back to my earlier question, is Kurt staying here? Do you know where I might find him?"
I shook my head. "I haven't seen him in over a year." I took a sip of my water, feeling the coldness slide down my throat. "We have a young daughter, and my husband believes ..." I stared out the back window at a group of crows roosting in the giant oak on the other side of our fence. I envied the lack of complication in their existence. "Well, at some point a parent has to quit enabling bad choices. You know, tough love, all that." I looked into his eyes, wondering what a police officer thought about tough love. Did he see it as the cruel, uncaring act that it often felt like, or did he see it as the necessity that Rick did? As a mother, my head told me one thing, my heart another.
"I understand that." It was stated as a fact, nothing more. Not an agreement or a disagreement, just the truth of his understanding. "So, you have no idea where I might find him?"
"No. The last I heard he was working odd jobs at construction sites around town, but that was a while ago." As the fear of Kurt's death ebbed away, reality set in, and another fear began to grow and take its place. "Why are you looking for him?"
"Just routine questioning." He flipped up a sheet on his pad of paper.
I reached my hand across the table and grabbed his. He looked up, his eyes wide with surprise.
"Detective Thompson, in the last few years I've lived through one son's violent death and the debilitating addiction of another. My husband has recently left home, and I am using the last ounces of strength I possess to make it through each day and be here for my daughter. I cannot afford to be blindsided. I need to know how bad this might be."
He drew his hand away, studying my face as he did so. Surely a detective trained in interrogation could take one look at me and see the depths of desperation, know beyond a doubt that I spoke the truth. After a moment, he shrugged and said, "A drug dealer was killed downtown last weekend. I'm just looking to ask some questions."
"Why would you want to question Kurt?"
Again, he searched my face before deciding to offer a response. "Do you know what a pay-owe sheet is?"
"It's a record that drug dealers keep of people who owe them money. In that line of work, somebody always owes you money."
"I guess so." I focused on my glass of water. The ice cubes were slowly shrinking and disappearing, just like I was. "Am I to assume that Kurt's name is on the-what did you call it?- pay-owe sheet of this drug dealer?"
"Yes it is."
"And that makes him a suspect." I stated this as a resigned truth, something I'd mastered over the last few years. Resigning myself to all sorts of unsavory truths had become one of my strengths, if you could call it that.
"Your son's name was on that list along with more than a dozen others. He's not a suspect. We're just doing some routine questioning, hoping he might be able to shed some light on who might have done this."
Yes, of course my son's name would be on the list of people who owed a drug dealer money. He had descended just that far since his brother's death. Still, I knew Kurt well enough to know that he did have limits on how low he could go. "Detective Thompson, my son may be an addict, but he is not a murderer."
"I'm sure you're right. There are over a dozen names on the list, and it's highly likely that none of them killed the guy. It could have been a member of a rival gang, another drug dealer, anyone. We're just looking for pieces of the puzzle right now."
Relief flooded me. Of course they didn't suspect Kurt. "Well, sorry I don't have any more information for you."
"Thanks for the water." He pulled a card out of his pocket. "If your son should call or come by in the next few days, would you let me know?"
Would I? I wasn't sure, but I did know that my son would not be calling or coming by. His father had made certain of that some time ago. It was a safe answer. "Of course." I took the card and held open the front door for him. "Uh, Detective Thompson, if you should see him before I do, will you tell him ..."
He waited for me to finish the sentence. What would I want him to know? That he was ripping my heart out? That I desperately needed to see that he was okay? "Just tell him that his mother loves him."
He nodded and smiled. "You got it."
Excerpted from Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman Copyright © 2009 by Kathryn Cushman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
"This is a heart-rending story that actually radiates hope. Just not the kind of hope we're used to seeing in today's modern church. Alisa is the kind of woman I'd want as my friend---my closest friend.
"I only hope, after reading this novel, that I can be the kind of friend women like Alisa need in their lives. Kathryn Cushman writes stories with heart and passion, about people who could very well be living in your neighborhood.... I challenge you to read one Kathryn Cushman novel without a package of tissues at your side!"--(Deena Peterson, TitleTrakk.com)
"Cushman does a good job of bringing up some weighty themes even as she weaves this entertaining story. No mother will be able to read this book without asking herself if she would she go to the lengths Alisa did if she were in the same shoes.... For a hard-to-put-down read that will prompt you to take a thoughtful look at your role as a parent and as a child, Leaving Yesterday is an excellent choice."--(Violet Nesdoly, Blogcritics.org)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Pat and predictable. Probably not a very typical or realistic story.
'Leaving Yesterday' is about Alisa, a single mother who prematurely prepares for the death of her youngest son, Kurt, when she spots a police car parked outside of her California home. With the death of her oldest son that led Kurt into a ferocious battle with drug addiction, she expects the officer to tell her that Kurt was found dead from overdose. However, Detective Thompson merely wants to question him on the death of a vicious drug dealer whom Kurt owed money. Alisa is relieved when later on Kurt calls from a rehabilitation center reporting that he's just finished with detox. While this calms Alisa's nerves and thanks God her son has become a prodigal, she is burdened by the constant appearance of Detective Thompson who refuses to let up on Kurt's possible involvement in the death of drug dealer, Rudy Prince. She continuously reassures herself Kurt is innocent of any crime, but loose ends keep her worried. Should she do everything she can to protect her son or everything she can to discover the truth? Kathryn Cushman gracefully draws parallels to the Bible with the occurring events in her characters' stories. Time and again, I found myself asking how I would handle some of the situations Alisa had to go through. I love when books make me think about that because it's then when I feel like I'm starting to relate to the character(s). Would I go so far as to destroy a piece of evidence that could possibly tie someone I love to a murder? Would I have the strength to speak up and admit my part in the murder, however minor, or would I allow someone else to take the fall? Have I pretended to be the model Christian for as long as I've been saved or am I the real deal? Very interesting questions that, I think if everyone could be 100% honest about, would tell us a lot about ourselves, which is the underlying theme of the book. God will put us in difficult situations perhaps to make us question whether we are really the person we think we are or if we need to recalculate our heart's to become the person God wants us to be.
I read the book Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman. When a police car shows up in front of Alisa Stewarts home, she fears the worst. That her son Kurt is dead, lost forever to addiction. She lost her other son as well, and because she lost touch with Kurt for over a year, she only has her ten year old daughter Caroline left. But, the police officer is just trying to get information on the murder of a man Kurt once knew. Alisa knew that Kurt couldn't have possibly murdered the man.right? Her boy has changed, he didn't deserve to be brought back to his past. Alisa becomes crushed with an impossible choice: keep silent and keep her son.or risk everything in a quest for the truth? I would rate this book four out of five stars. The story line was very good and it was a quick book to read. I also loved the Christian views in the book. However, at some points in the book, it was a little hard to get through. Those points in the book do go by fast, and the books begins to pick up speed again. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially people seeking some inspiration. Overall, Leaving Yesterday was a great read! Thank you to Bethany House Publishers, who provided this book to me for free for me to review.
I had read somewhere in the cyber world that Kathryn Cushman's writing style was similar to Karen Kingsbury, and I love Karen Kingsbury... so when I was given the opportunity by BethanyHouse Publishing to read and review Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman I jumped on it quick. I was not disappointed! Though I it took about 10 chapters (the book is forty-three chapters) to get 'captured' to where I had to keep, I enjoyed it and would place her right up there with Karen Kingsbury. This story will tear at every mother's heart. I have five kids and though they are all young now, I did lie in bed questioning how far, as a Christian woman, I would go to protect my kids. Even though this is a "Christian Fiction" any mother would easily relate. Kathryn does an awesome job of capturing a mothers heart and the true struggle that a mother, Christian or not, would have if her son was accused of a hideous crime. In the deep Christian aspect, Kathryn touches on another soul-stirring topic of our real personal relationship with Christ. No relationship is perfect and no relationship is trial-free, but how are we when a trial really does come our way. Deep inside do we doubt, yet act all strong to those around us, those who look up to us? When the waves rage against us, do we hide in our strength or do we fall into the arms of Jesus? Where are we really putting our trust? Do we really know Christ, personally? Through Leaving Yesterday, Kathryn helped remind me that my walk needs to be a daily walk. If I am saying that my trust is in Christ, then it needs to really be there! If I say that I am a Christian -a follower of Christ- then it needs to be in the open and behind closed doors. Though it had a slow start, Leaving Yesterday was a great read with a great reminder. You won't be disappointed!
Perfect is a word used in this book quite a few times. Do you aim for perfection? Leaving Yesterday is the fictional story of a mom, her family, and her choices. Drug problems are rampant in our society. This story of lives affected by this problem shows a sad look inside. Silence- is this the right choice? This book is thought provoking. What would you do in this situation? From the book: "It occured to me that over the course of the last few weeks, deception had begun to get easier." As you read it, you may be thinking "No! That is wrong." Or maybe "I could see myself doing the same thing." This is a book about life and choices.
Alisa Stewart, a mother who is bound up in grief. Her oldest son was beaten to death while witnessing to a group at Mardis Gras. This drove her youngest son Kurt to drugs. A junkie. She would have never dreamed this would be how her life was, one son dead, another son a junkie, only God knew where he was. And now the police are looking for Kurt. He is a person of interest in a murder investigation. Separated from her husband Rick, Alisa works at her church as a women's minister. She also teaches grief seminars. Reeling from the news that the police are looking for Kurt, she truly is overwhelmed. However a phone call would change all that. Kurt calls to tell her that he is in rehab. Relieved and excited that he is overcoming his drug habit, she is convinced her family is on the way to being mended. However there are twists and turns around each corner. This book will grab your attention. You will not want to put it down as you wonder what will be thrown Alisa and Rick's way next? Will an innocent man be convicted of murder? Will Kurt return to drugs? Why is he needing so much money? Why is he borrowing from both she and Rick? And just for a unexpected twist, will Alisa revive an old friendship, where the attraction is strong? Truly full of twists and surprises this book is a book to read cover to cover. A reading and discussion guide at the end, for book clubs. 311 pages $13.99 US 4 stars. This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for review purposes only. No cash or payment was received for this review.
Bethany House has been on a roll with their contemporary literary fiction lately. They have been putting out books that directly touch you without being preachy or over dramatic. This latest book by Kathryn Cushman is no exception. Since I am not a mother, one would think that it would seem as it would be hard for me to understand exactly what Alisa is going through. How would I be able fully comprehend what it would mean to have a son who was living out your worst nightmare? This book however paints out Alisa's hopes and fears so clearly, it was actually like I was in her thoughts. The story is completely engaging and I was sucked into the story. Even though it may not have been actions I would have done myself, I totally understand why Alisa did what she did. You will do anything and everything to protect the ones you love. Without spoiling anything, I just want to say that you shouldn't expect a candy coated, happy ending here. This book portrays the real world and people face the consequences of their actions. This is way more powerful than a miracle ending where someone or something comes in to save the day. Also of interest, is the minor storyline between Alisa and her male married neighbor. I was intrigued as to where that plot would go and was surprised by the situation. I've read several reviews where there have been comparisons between Cushman and Karen Kingsbury. Ok, in my honest opinion, Cushman's books blow Kingsbury's books out of the water. For starters, you don't always have the happy ending in Cushman's books. There isn't unnecessary soap opera drama. The characters are actually believable. These books are just contemporary women's fiction. They are stories that touch deep at your heart without have to resort to feeling as they are manipulating your tear ducts. VERY highly recommended.
Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman is a absorbing novel about a mother's love. Alisa Stewart has spent the last several years coping with the brutal murder of her eldest son and her younger son's ensuing descent into drug addiction. Kurt has dropped out of his parents' lives, so when a police detective stops by asking his whereabouts in regards to a murder, Alisa is sickened with fear. Kurt's subsequent phone call from rehab alleviates her fears, and she is thrilled to have hope in a future for him again. But when the questions about the murder continue, Alisa has to decide just how deep her love for Kurt runs. Cushman tackles a difficult topic with compassion and incisiveness. The reader exults and aches with Alisa in her quest to save her son. There are extra layers to the story with Alisa's career as a speaker about grief recovery and her faltering marriage. The story flows so naturally it's hard to believe that this isn't a nonfiction memoir. Cushman is a superb author.
When police Detective Thompson arrives at her door, Alisa Stewart almost has a heart attack as she fears the cop is here to inform her that her only surviving son Kurt is dead. However, the officer only wants to talk with Kurt to learn what he knows about the brutal beating murder of a dealer. Still frantic with worry, she is finally relieved when Kurt calls her to tell her he is off the street and in rehab. She feels he is turning the corner and thanks the Lord for this miracle. Meanwhile as her spouse considers a divorce, she considers an affair, but soon has to think about second chances when the police arrest a perp for the drug related murder that she begins to fear Kurt committed, but sticks to her mantra of by pretending it didn't happen it will make it go away. Although the trials and tribulations tests that Job faced may make him the only person ever to have more calamities tossed at them than Alisa, which can be overwhelming to the reader, LEAVING YESTERDAY is a fine family drama. Alisa holds the story line together as her worries about Kurt turn into a personal morality crisis of right vs. wrong with her fear being her son committed the killing and her concealing her belief goes against her Ten Commandment like ethics. Even her pretending he didn't do it does not ease her mind. Although her crises with her spouse and with her potential lover feels intrusive, LEAVING YESTERDAY is a strong look at personal morality in a world in which define is holds no one culpable. Harriet Klausner