The Color of Rock: A Novel

The Color of Rock: A Novel

by Sandra Cavallo Miller
The Color of Rock: A Novel

The Color of Rock: A Novel

by Sandra Cavallo Miller

Hardcover(First Edition)

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A young physician, Dr. Abby Wilmore, attempts to escape her past by starting over at the Grand Canyon Clinic. Silently battling her own health issues, Abby struggles with adjusting to the demands of this unique rural location. She encounters everything from squirrel bites to suicides to an office plagued by strong personalities. While tending to unprepared tourists, underserved locals, and her own mental trials, Abby finds herself entangled in an unexpected romance and trapped amidst a danger even more treacherous than the foreboding desert landscape.

Sandra Cavallo Miller’s debut novel transports readers to the beautiful depths of Arizona and weaves an adventurous and heartwarming tale of the courage and strength it takes to overcome personal demons and to find love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781948908467
Publisher: University of Nevada Press
Publication date: 11/13/2019
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Sandra Cavallo Miller is an author, poet, and retired academic family physician. Her writings and poems have been published in JAMA’s A Piece of My Mind, Pulse: Voices From the Heart of Medicine, Under the Sun, and American Journal of Kidney Diseases. The Color of Rock is her debut novel. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

For the second time that morning, Abby resisted the urge to swerve from her jogging path and cross the road, to cut through the sun-spattered woods and follow the deep pull of gravity she felt from the canyon, to go gaze again into those burnished depths, those shattered cliffs. She reminded herself that the canyon wasn’t going anywhere and there would be plenty of time once she was settled to ponder those elaborate layers, sliced open like the most astonishing confection ever fabricated. The incense of pine filled the air, and the soft slapping rhythm of her sneakers steadied her mind.

Starting over was no small thing.

Starting over after nearly losing yourself, even more.

Early light splashed her face through the trees as she reviewed her relaxation mantras. There would be no room for anxiety today. Breathe deep, and capture the day.

Abby moved past the campground as tourists began to rise, the fragrance of coffee and bacon drifting through the woods. Glancing over, she imagined who might show up in her clinic that morning. That paunchy middle-aged man, struggling to lift an overloaded ice chest into his truck, was at risk for a bad back strain. That older woman, hunched at her picnic table sucking on a cigarette, had the gray complexion of a heart patient, and this altitude could easily trigger her angina.

No distractions, she chided herself. She dropped into a walk, panting softly in the thin air at seven thousand feet—a drastic change from Phoenix. Hurrying into her house, she skimmed off her running clothes and showered quickly, pulled her chestnut hair back into a messy bun. Maybe a little severe, but very professional. As she strode out the door, she fingered the shiny new key in her pocket, the key to the back door of the Grand Canyon Clinic.

She was early, staff just arriving. First days were rarely good days for Abby, who realized she was too cautious, too self-critical. Her recent loss of confidence didn’t help, but she knew herself well enough to understand that the only way past it was through it. Abby swallowed hard and introduced herself to the busy nurse who was straightening supplies in the exam rooms. It felt like home, the familiar smells of antiseptic and soap, the spotless floors and counters.

“Dr. Wilmore,” she said, shaking the nurse’s hand. “Abigail Wilmore. But everyone calls me Abby.”

“Dolores Diaz,” the nurse replied, taking Abby’s hand warmly in both of hers. She was fiftyish, stout, her kind face framed by short dark hair laced with silver. “Welcome to the asylum!  I’m so glad to meet you. I’ve heard such nice things.”
“Really?” Abby smiled. “Rumors, most likely.”

“Come on, follow me. I know Dr. Pepper is anxious to see you.”

Abby kept a straight face. In his place, she probably would have changed her name. Dr. Pepper—how could he tolerate the inevitable teasing, such a convenient source for witless puns? Dolores led her down the hall to a small office crammed with two tiny desks, the shelves stuffed and messy, overflowing with papers and medical journals. Everything looked unbalanced and dangerously close to collapse.
John Pepper, the clinic supervisor, unfolded his lanky frame and extended his hand, his light blue eyes coolly appraising. Abby tugged her white coat straight. She didn’t always wear a white coat at work, but today she needed that shield, that universal symbol.

“You’re early. I like that.” He smiled nicely enough, a little guarded, the cautious smile of a cynic.

He couldn’t be more than five or six years older than her, she thought. Dressed casually, he had thick brown hair, a bit long and unruly, and he looked too thin—his jeans clung to his hips like a bull-rider’s. All he needed was a silver prize buckle, Abby thought.  She gave his hand a strong squeeze.

“One of my few assets,” she remarked lightly. “Being on time.”

“It’s a good one. I know some people think I’m too . . . demanding. For being out here on the edge of the world, as we are. But it’s a slippery slope if things get too loose, so I’m a little bit all about the rules, I’m afraid.”

Was he looking for a reaction, or was she was imagining it? Abby had been honest with him about her problems when she applied for the job, so she hoped he wasn’t having regrets.

“I’ve made some room here for your books.” He indicated a shelf, an open space a few feet wide. “You’ll probably need more, but this is yours for starters.”

Abby shook her head and pulled her computer tablet from her pocket. “I only have a few books, mostly for procedures. Everything else is online. You know, like DynaMed.”

“Right,” he nodded. “I still need DynaMed.”

“It’s based more on scientific evidence,” Abby pointed out, feeling a need to prove something.

“So I’ve heard. You can apparently show me a few things. That’s good.” He smiled again, more kind this time. “Anyway, I’m off today for admin work—sometimes I get more done at home. Less distraction. So I’ll get out of here and leave the place to you. Dolores will take good care of you in the back, and the women up front will show you all about the scheduling and billing. You’re familiar with our electronic records program, right?”
Abby nodded.

“Okay then. I know you’ve got my number, so let me know if you have any problems or questions. And if things get crazy—and believe me, they can get crazy really fast—just call me. I’m only a few minutes away, and I’ll be sticking close by until you get your feet under you.”

He left abruptly, and just like that there she was, alone on her first day at her new job. His swift exit surprised her, left her feeling adrift. Fine, she didn’t need him. She reminded herself that patients here were like patients everywhere, and that she knew what she was doing. Their bodies were put together in the same ways, and malfunctioned and fell apart in the same ways, no matter where. Cells were cells: blood flowed or didn’t flow, hearts beat steadily or not, intestines digested, kidneys plumbed the waterworks, and lungs pulled in air and let it out.

What People are Saying About This

Tom Myers

Like the spectacular setting it is based in, The Color of Rock is a uniquely sculpted, fascinating novelWell-written and original, the storyline chronicles the struggles of a young physician living and working remotely in Grand Canyon National Park. Interspersed with clever twists and turns, The Color of Rock is a fun and unpredictable read, the doctor’s life proving similar to a journey into the Canyon itself: a balance of fear and challenge with pleasure and pain, sometimes on the edge and all in a backdrop of shocking beauty. 

Therese Zink

Dr. Miller has created a page turner with real and endearing characters. You will vicariously hike in the Grand Canyon and witness some of its secrets. You’ll even learn a little medicine as you watch a delightful romance unfold.

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