The Lemonade Year

The Lemonade Year

by Amy Willoughby-Burle


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Nina’s once-sweet life has unexpectedly turned sour. Her marriage is over, her job is in jeopardy, and her teenage daughter is slipping away from her. Then her father dies and issues with Nina’s mother come to a head; her estranged brother, Ray, comes home; and her sister, Lola, is tempted to blow a big family secret out of the water. They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make a huge mess of things.

All Nina’s got left is her final photography assignment shooting images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Well, that and the attention of a younger man, but Oliver’s on-again-off-again romantic interest in her ebbs and flows so much she is seasick. And then Jack, her ex-husband, shows up, wanting to get back together.

As Nina struggles to find a way through her complicated relationships and to uncover her true path, she discovers just how valuable a second chance at life and happiness can be.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781629724119
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Publication date: 04/03/2018
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Amy Willoughby-Burle is a writer and teacher living in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband and four children. She writes about the mystery and wonder of everyday life. Her contemporary fiction focuses on the themes of second chances, redemption, and finding the beauty in the world around us. She is the author of a collection of short stories entitled Out across the Nowhere and a contributor to the anthology Of Mist and Magic.

Read an Excerpt

When someone buys two dozen lemons, a box of tissues, and a whole carrot cake at midnight, you have to figure something is wrong. The cake is for the minute I walk in my condo. The tissues are for my father's funeral. The lemons mean I'm losing my job.

I'm Nina Griffin, food stylist and photographer. One of those people who artistically arrange food and then take pictures of it. The pictures that make it look like the best almond-crusted salmon with blanched, baby asparagus that ever was. The pictures that are meant to inspire you to cook, despite the knowledge that you'll never be able to recreate the dish the way it appears in the book--yeah, that's what I do. I make it all seem possible.

It's just a ruse.

Right now my publishing house has me working on 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Seriously? Are there really thirty-two ways to make lemonade? This is why I think my job may be in jeopardy. But right now I don't have time to worry about that. It's past midnight and I'm driving home from the grocery store with a carrot cake strapped down by the seat belt on the passenger's side and there's a white owl standing in the middle of the road.

I get closer and closer, and all the bird does is swivel its head around like that kid in the Exorcist and stare at me. I start slowing down, sure that at any moment the bird will lift off like it's capable of doing. But it doesn't. It just stands there, eyeing me, daring me. I fishtail to a halt, reaching my right hand out to catch the cake if it comes loose from the seat belt, while I watch as the front end of the car passes over the owl until he's out of sight.

I grip the wheel. Alone on the highway, forty years old, my marriage over, my teenage daughter sleeping at my sister's house to prove a point, my long fought-over career slipping through my fingers, and my father's funeral two days away. But here I am, panicked over the possibility that there may be a dead owl on the grill of my car. So far--so far--I've been holding it together. But something about a dead bird with its little hollow, bird bones broken against the front of my car is the last straw. There has to be one, right?

I push open the car door in a panic, like maybe I can get there in time to give the little thing mouth-to-beak and he'll be ok--he'll be ok. It's all my fault. I should have just kept driving and perhaps the car would have just passed over him as he stood there in the middle of the road, but I slammed on breaks and that made the front end go lower, like I was aiming for him for crying out loud. Geez, woman, I hear him say to me. Can't a bird stand in the street anymore? What's the world coming to?

I get out, slam my door, and slip around to the front of the car. It's late at night and I'm on a back road, but still a car screams past me in the other lane and I shudder. My headlights are blazing, and I expect to find the owl crushed against the grill, wings spread--trying to take off in the last seconds--to no avail. But there's nothing. I should be thrilled, but panic sets in deeper. Where did he go? Is he under a tire? Is there still time? Can I save him? I kneel down on the pavement to get a look under the car. Then whoosh--up from beneath the bumper and grazing my head, the owl rises and zigzags off--its wings clipping the hood on the way up and off into the black sky--a fluttering white speck headed for the safety of the trees. I sit down in the wash of my own headlights and cry.

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