Member Reviews

After ten years of marriage, Celia and Burnaby are reevaluating if and/or how they can live together. After a series of challenging events, Celia runs away to a remote farm in Washington to heal from a terrible experience she holds herself responsible for.
Celia and Burnaby give each other the time and space they need to mourn, heal, and trust their loved ones and their faith to help them through.

This is a compelling and unusual love story that captivated my attention and touched my heart as this author skillfully balances grief and hope. I liked how the author explores difficulties in marriage and learning how to live with loss. I appreciated the natural spiritual thread, and how readers get a peek at life with Burnaby's autism challenges.

The author beautifully and skillfully captures the intimacy, mystery, and adventure that happen between Burnaby and Celia as they discover things don’t seem to be accidents but rather deliberate actions to hurt them. Why? I adored how the author’s passions vividly brought the story and the characters to life.

After reading this story, I looked up additional novels by this author. This is an excellent pick for a reading group. You won’t forget these characters and this story. This author is one to watch.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I requested and received a copy of this book by the publisher and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog

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Stars: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Read: June 2024
Format: post-release ARC (digital advanced reader copy provided by Net Galley) but I also listened to the audiobook on Everand
Narrator: Amy Melissa Bentley (see the Side Notes at the end)

This was a new author for me. I enjoyed the amazing nature pictures she painted and the emotions conveyed through the characters.

The main female character, Celia, is one that is difficult to like at times for a few reasons. Nonetheless, you can’t help but feel for her due to the childhood she endured with a cruel and detached mother. Her traumatic loss in the story tore at my heart. Yet it was like she forgot all of the beauty of her marriage afterward.

Having a main character (Burnaby) as an adult on the autism spectrum was something new for me. He’s brilliant, successful, and has a good grasp on his strengths and weaknesses as a person. He sees the world in a unique manner and makes beautiful correlations to God and His creation. His faith amazed me.

I was really engaged with the story until there were so many other characters and “side stories” that it caused my attention to wander at times. I found the suspense or mystery aspect unnecessary to the story in many ways. It caused it to become longer than needed and sometimes took the story off-track from what I loved about it.

However, I enjoyed Hazel immensely, as well as the little boys. I appreciated Celia’s growth and the realization of her need for God.

Side Note: While I thought this was a much better performance for this narrator than what I have experienced in the past, a few things were irritating. The production team should have caught them.
1. She pronounced the Bible translation of N.I.V. like a word (“niv”).
2. She pronounced “Canuck” as ka-nook instead of ka-nuck.
3. Her voice for Hazel was quite inconsistent, especially early on.
4. The Canadian “eh” thing got a major eye roll from me every time. While Canadians say “eh” at the end of sentences once in a while, this has been grossly exaggerated by our friends to the south. Plus a southern twang with a weird-sounding “eh” just put it into the realm of annoying. It didn’t sound anything like how it’s used or how we say it.

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Wow, what a complicated, worthwhile story. The author gleans from her background in the beautiful countryside of Washington State. The descriptions are awe inspiring. The characters are complex, touching on dealing with autism as an adult and coping with daily life and relationships.
Burnaby is an outstanding character with a profound faith in God that his scientific brain explains in a fascinating way. Celia is a tortured soul who struggles to find meaning when tragedy strikes. A favorite character is Hazel, her solid faith and the love she shows to her newfound granddaughter, Celia.
This is a many layered story that deals with friendship, family drama and relationships as well as harrowing episodes told in a realistic way. The details of working with wildlife, farming and vet duties were extremely interesting.
I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent book and will definitely check out the debut by this accomplished author.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale via NetGalley. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are mine alone.*

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Leaning On Air by Cheryl Bostrom is an excellent read. Her chosen words are descriptive and authentic. The story takes begins twelve years after Celia and Burnaby last spoke. They are adults now and are ready to fall in love. Burnaby is autistic and struggles with personal interactions. Celia has recently lost her grandmother. The story is set in the beautiful Palouse in Washington. Warning, there is miscarriage, loss, and suffering in the tale. It isn’t always an easy read but it is a beautiful read. Five Stars for sure.

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Powerful, heartbreaking, ultimately triumphant story of overcoming tragedy and reconnecting as a married couple. Leaning on Air is my first book by Cheryl Grey Bostrom and won’t be my last. I was struck by the beautiful prose and the poetic way she describes nature, faith, and life on the spectrum. This was unlike any story I’d read before and I appreciated the tender ways she dealt with loss, anger, and reconciliation.

Burnaby Hayes is a brilliant veterinarian who’s also autistic. A friend in college took Burnaby under his wing and helped him build his faith as well as learn how to manage his challenges in the best ways possible. When he reconnects with his childhood friend whom he’s had a crush on for years, he’s able to make a marriage work with her. But, when tragedy strikes, Burnaby is at a loss on how to connect to his wife and their unimaginable grief.

Ornithologist Celia Burke ran away from a series of relationships until she returns home only to discover her handsome, now all grown up friend, and soon finds herself charmed by the familiar yet different Burnaby. Ten years later, their happy if unusual marriage is torn apart when she experiences painful loss. She flees to a nearby family member’s farm located near the gorgeous Palouse region to try to heal, and decide what to do next. As she struggles with her past, lack of faith, and a tempting neighbor, she has to decide if she’ll run away again or make things work with Burnaby and all his challenges.

This book had so many layers and was deeply emotional. My heart ached for Burnaby and Celia. Burnaby tries so hard to do everything he can to save their marriage. I loved his persistence and willingness to do whatever it took to show Celia his love even when things like sensory touch were so difficult for him. Anyone who’s gone through profound loss can understand what Celia’s going through, the agony, blame, overwhelming sadness, & need to escape from everything. I loved how being in nature revitalized her and helped her with her spiritual journey towards God and reconciling with her husband.

I loved the vivid descriptions of the land and red tailed hawk. There’s also a bit of mystery thrown in as well as other tragedies involving a horse and a little boy who suddenly becomes mute. Celia & Burn find themselves working together to help Cobb and save their land.

Definitely a must read for those who enjoy women’s and inspirational fiction. There are some definite trigger warnings those sensitive to loss should be aware of. See below. I received an advanced complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own and voluntarily provided. 4.5-5 stars!

CW: detailed description of miscarriage, child loss, fade to black love scene between a married couple, child abandonment.

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Several trigger warnings regarding miscarriage, still births, abuse, and others should be attached. Leaning on Air was a difficult book for me and I had to skip over multiple parts.

Having taught middle school with students, some of whom were autistic, I could understand the traits detailed in the adult male main character Burnaby. This made for many challenges in his marriage when difficulties arose. However, his commitment to his marriage had him reaching out over and over to save his marriage with Celia. Celia does not initially share his faith. Although faith and forgiveness and redemption are not as prevalent as I would have preferred, it does shine through when needed.

Releases May 7th. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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I did not enjoy the book. It was just nowhere near as good as Sugar Birds.

This book was sad and emotional and should have a big, huge, trigger warning about miscarriage and stillbirths. I tried to get beyond that but it was in every chapter along with talk of religion. I'm not one to usually read christian genres. I tried to love this book as much as everyone else seems too but it's not what I was hoping for.

Celia turns her back on her husband. Her autistic husband. After the loss of their third pregnancy at several months Celia goes off the rails. Even though she KNOWS that Burnaby is a bit on the special side, suffering from autism. She knows that he has a special way of dealing with things and this loss should be no different. She starts out knowing that it's ok to go looking for a tagged bird and then starts having severe contractions. Blames herself. Blames him. I understand that this is a horrible thing. Been there myself. But she can't just decide that on a whim it's all her fault or his. Or that he blames her. She knows that he thinks differently and weighs all the info. He'd never blame her. For a love that is suppose to be as strong as theirs it came across as awful weak. Again I understand it's a special time after the loss of another fetus.

I didn't enjoy anything about this book. The grandmother out of nowhere was a bit out there for me also. I did not experience any of the feelings that it seems other reviewers did. I wish this author the best but this was not a good sequel for Sugar Birds. At least not to me.

Thank you #NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC. This is my true thoughts about this book.

3 stars

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It’s hard to say how I feel about this book, except to say that the writing was exquisite!

It kept me interested enough throughout, and I enjoyed the story for the most part. I’ve never been to the part of the country described in the book, so it was a bit hard for me to relate to, but it must be beautiful.

I received this book from the publisher via net galley in exchange for an honest review. Four stars.

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Leaning on Air - Cheryl Grey Bostrom 4.5 stars

What a roller-coaster of emotions packed into this book! This book follows Celia and Burnaby, who knew each other as teens and reconnected 12 years later and end up married. After a decade of marriage, they find themselves going through some of the toughest years of their marriage with many traumatic events. Celia is devastated with the after effects of everything she has endured and Burnaby is trying so hard to make their marriage work. We follow this couple on their journey to overcome tragedy together and we see how God is involved the entire time.

This was was such an impactful story - especially to me as an Autism Boy Mama. I specifically loved the introduction when Burnaby is explaining how God has been with him through his autism - when he is explaining what's helped him in his growth - the way it was explained means a lot to me because as an Autism Mama, we worry about our own children with the unknown of "will our children be able to make the decision to follow Christ?" Seeing Burnaby's story and faith in God gives me hope for my own son to be able to make that decision one day for himself.

I love how Burnaby truly fought for his marriage with Celia. Calling over and over, trying to diagnose her in what she's going through, following her to the ends of the earth to make sure she is ok because he cares so much for her. He may not always be able to express it in the best way because he is autistic and he struggles with sensory issues in being touched, but he truly loves her. I also love how he talked to Celia about how the Lord loves their child and understands what it's like to lose one. It was beautiful and got me so emotional. Celia is skeptical of God throughout the story.

With Celia and Burnaby's jobs being very involved in science as an ornithologist (person who is an expert on birds) and a veterinary surgeon, you will see all kinds of nerdy details on physics but thankfully, the author explains everything along the way. It was very interesting to learn more about their professions. You also learn a lot about Washington State's Palouse - which is one of the most serene and pastoral farm areas of the state. It certainly made me research this area to see how beautiful it was for myself!

This story may have been filled with grief and trauma, but God was moving throughout this story and through Celia and Burnaby's marriage issues and reconciliation. I think the only thing that could have made this a perfect 5 stars was seeing a bit more faith development with Celia and a little more detail of how things played out in the end but I really enjoyed this!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy to honestly read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Content Warnings: Detailed miscarriage, grief surrounding miscarriage, parental and other family member deaths, mental abuse from a parent, fade to black marital sex scene.

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Leaning on Air interweaves a deep wonder of the natural world with spirituality.

The narrative follows Celia, an ornithologist, struggling to find meaning after a family tragedy. As Celia immerses herself in the prairie landscape of eastern Washington and personal connections, she uncovers profound spiritual insights that make her reevaluate her past, current, and future relationships with people and nature.

Bostrom’s storytelling is poetic, blending reverence for the natural world with themes of grief, spirituality, and the promise of new beginnings.

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This long awaited and much anticipated sequel did not disappoint! Even with a fast forward in time of 10 years, I was immediately right back with the beautifully written characters that Bostrom painted so magnificently in this book. I was hooked instantly and couldn't put Leaning on Air down. Once again, I felt as if Celia and Burnaby were family, and I was deeply moved as they dealt with huge life events and challenges. Thank you to Tyndale and NetGalley for the early copy I was able to read before Leaning on Air's release.

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I really enjoyed Leaning on Air! The story is woven around very delightful characters. Their love, friendships, joys and struggles all blended together for a very lovely read for me.

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A wonderfully moving sequel to Sugar Birds. (After finishing, I even went back and read Sugar Birds a second time!)

In Leaning on Air, I found Cheryl Grey Bostrom’s prose inviting me to pause, to re-read, to fully absorb the fullness of the meaning expressed. We are allowed to walk alongside her characters as they navigate the complexities of relationships and life’s heartaches, to discover the potential of profound joy in vulnerability, forgiveness and hope.

Anyone who has experienced loss can relate to the ebb and flow of grief and its impact on relationships and our ability to trust, both ourselves and others. This story guides us along a path of commitment and faithfulness to one another amidst challenging questions, obstacles and even silence. Through Burnaby and Celia’s journey, we see how loyalty and love in human relationships allow us to safely move forward in healing. We also begin to see how this journey provides us a glimpse into the immeasurable depth and faithfulness of a loving Creator.

Added bonus. As a native of the Palouse, it was great fun following the adventure as Bostrom weaves a realistic and captivating portrayal of the region and its natural beauty!

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4.25⭐️ Aside from the Christian fiction element, which is not my thing and was even a little over my head at times, I loved reconnecting with Celia (an ornithologist), and Burnaby, a veterinarian surgeon who is on the autism spectrum, as adults (in their late 20s and then their late 30s/early 40s) well as the new characters and the Washington farm setting. The book at times was heart breaking, but love and faith truly saw this extended family through some devastating events. The sabotage mystery was also an engaging plot element. This is a stand alone sequel to a young adult/coming of age novel that is not necessary to read to enjoy this book.

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Leaning on Air affirms my settled opinion that fiction has the power to teach and inspire the reader without diluting for one minute the magic of the story. Cheryl Grey Bostrom’s character-driven work produced a much-loved cast in the award-winning Sugar Birds, and now Celia and Burnaby have been married for ten years.

Their careers are flourishing, but sadness lurks around the fringes of their happy relationship. When it comes crashing into centerstage, anguish sends them in different directions, threatening their bond. Readers in faltering and floundering marriages will find a breath of hope in this tale of restoration.

Descriptions of the beautiful Pacific Northwest expose Bostrom’s roots as a naturalist, photographer, poet, and ardent believer that “the natural world illustrates the spiritual one.” Gospel undertones enrich without detracting for God is portrayed as relational. He is “the Entangler,” the Rescuer, and he is active in this story—just as he is active in all our stories.

Many thanks to Tyndale House and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.

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Once again, Cheryl Bostrom’s story-telling voice weaves an intricate, beautiful tale of love fighting through heartbreak, in a setting so rich with detail you’ll swear you’ve been there. Celia Burke and Burnaby Hayes, first introduced in Sugar Birds, return as adults, and rekindle their unique, endearing connection despite the challenges posed by Burnaby’s autism. The unfolding story is compelling and gripping, full of all the feels – soul-deep hurt, sparkling joy, circumstance-defying hope, and the kind of love only found in refining fire. Full of intelligent, meticulously detailed descriptions of the animals and landscapes of the Palouse, this is a true literary gem.

Thanks to Tyndale and NetGalley for the ARC.

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“Leaning on Air” by Cheryl Grey Bostrom is a contemporary novel that weaves current trends, natural and scenic beauty, the challenges that young couples and families have, and the promises and assurances of God. The book takes place in the Pacific Northwest and the descriptions of the prairies and the daily lives of farmers are poetic.

This book is the second book about Celia and Burnaby. I feel it would have been more enjoyable to have read that book before reading this story. Overall, I enjoyed Celia and Burnaby’s challenges and several of the other characters, including the twins and Celia’s grandmother were lovely. Many sad events were paired with equally joyous stories of nature and redemption ( and there’s an interesting mystery.)

‘I’m safe she realized. Protected. Freed, no matter what the future held. …she was cherished by a love so wondrous, strong, and safe, she suddenly wanted to surrender to it.”

Thanks to NetGalley and the Tyndale House Publishers for and Advance Digital Review copy. This is my honest review.

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This is the second book in this series. The story takes place in the PNW. This story is set specifically in the Palouse area, a rich farming area covering parts of Washington/Idaho/Oregon. The descriptions of this area by the author are so incredibly vivid and enticing. The first book, Sugar Birds, introduced us to Celia as a teen girl. This story picks up with Celia as a woman in her late 20s as she reconnects to an old friend, Burnaby. They quickly know they want to be married and they begin their lives together. Ten years later we pick up their story when a tragedy rocks their world. It leaves them both reeling and in shock. Would they be able to pick up the pieces and go on?

This is a heartrending story. It is beautiful, hard, and soaked in redemption. It is a love story on several levels... between man and woman, woman and family, and God and His children. It is a story of loss and pain and struggle but also of beauty, restorations, and reconciliation. Woven through each event is the thread of God caring for and guiding those He is calling to Himself. This one easily sits at the top of the stack of memorable books I have read. It will be sitting with me for a long time to come. I cannot wait for the next one!

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Cheryl Grey Bostrom captured my attention with her award winning debut Sugarbirds!I wanted to know more of the story of Celia and Burnaby and Leaning on Air delivers.This author writes as beautifully as the photographs she takes.Her writing is beautifully poetic about the Palouse area of Washington State and her characters.She weaves together love for nature as well as love for husband and wife and family and friends.Thank you NetGalley and Tyndall House for allowing me to read this ARC to read more of this story!j

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In her unique voice, with her vast knowledge of and appreciation for the natural world, Cheryl Grey Bostrom’s done it again. For those who loved her debut novel Sugar Birds, her new release Leaning on Air (which can be read as a stand-alone) continues the love story. With all the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, the magnificence of nature, the symbolism of birds, and the depth of authentic, unique relationships, Bostrom weaves a tale that not only keeps readers on the edge of their seats but teaches them more about the wild world of the living--creatures, trees and plants—and how humankinds’ call to care for such is one of life’s most marvelous gifts. I simply can’t imagine how anyone who reads this story won’t come away with a greater appreciation for life in all its forms, not to mention, a deeper understanding of the Creator’s love for those made uniquely in His image, to whom He gave the special job of caring for the earth. With wit and wisdom, this story will make you cry both happy and tender tears, and you just won’t want it to end. Leaning on Air is one to be shared with others and to be read again and again.

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