An unforgettable story of two brothers and the only woman whose love can set them both free.
Still aching over his wife's death, Cody Gunner can't bear the thought of also letting go of his Down Syndrome brother, Carl Joseph. Cody wants his brother home, where he will be safe and cared for, not out on his own in a world that Cody knows all too well can be heartless and insecure. So when Carl Joseph's teacher, Elle, begins championing his independence, she finds herself at odds with Cody. But even as these two battle it out, they can't deny the instinctive connection they share, and Cody faces a crisis of the heart.
What if Elle is the one woman who can teach Cody that love is still possible? If Cody can let go of his lingering anger, he might see that sometimes the brightest hope of all lies JUST BEYOND THE CLOUDS.
In characteristically heart-wringing, tear-jerking style, bestselling inspirational novelist Kingsbury finishes the story of Cody Gunner she began in A Thousand Tomorrows. Elle Dalton is director of an Independent Learning Center for Down Syndrome adults when she meets Cody, her student Carl Joseph's brother, who is intent on removing Carl from the center. Romance ensues between Elle, still brokenhearted over being jilted at the altar four years ago, and Cody, an angry bull rider who still grieves the loss of his wife to cystic fibrosis. Meanwhile, it's up to Elle-and Carl Joseph-to show Cody that Down Syndrome adults are capable of much more than most people believe. Kingsbury handles the many point-of-view changes with aplomb, although the chapter told from Carl's perspective is less successful. Some readers may wonder about the literary value of auctioning off a character spot in a novel to the highest bidder (the money goes to charity), as is done here, and there is some telling instead of showing and repetition in the prose. But the plotline is sweeter than sugar, and Kingsbury makes an admirably strong advocacy statement for Down Syndrome adults. Kingsbury's legions of inspirational fiction fans should find this exactly to their taste; new readers will also discover that it reads well as a stand-alone.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 13, 2007
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Excerpt from Just Beyond the Clouds by Karen Kingsbury
The eighteen adult students at the front of the classroom were a happy, ragtag group, mostly short and squatty, with sturdy necks and squinty eyes. All but two wore thick glasses. Their voices mingled in a loud cacophony of raucous laughter, genuine confusion, and boisterous verbal expression.
"Teacher!" The one named Gus took a step forward, lowered his brow, and pointed to the student beside him. "He wants the bus to the Canadian Rockies." Gus rolled his eyes. He gestured dramatically toward the window. "The buses out there go to the Colorado Rockies." He tossed both his hands in the air. "Could you tell him, Teacher?"
"Gus is right." Twenty-six-year-old Elle Dalton--teacher, mentor, encourager, friend--looked out the window. "Those are the Colorado Rockies. But our trip tomorrow isn't to the mountains." She smiled at the young men. "We're going to the Rocky Mountain Plaza. Rocky Mountain is just the name."
"Right." Daisy stood up and put her hands on her hips. She knew the Mountain Metropolitan Transit system better than anyone at the center. Daisy wagged her thumb at Gus. "I told you that. Shopping tomorrow. Not mountain climbing."
"Yes." Elle stood a few feet back and studied her students. She'd been over this two dozen times today already. But that was typical for a Thursday. "Everyone take out your cheat sheets."
In a slow sort of chain reaction, the students reached into their jeans pockets or in some cases their socks or waistbands for a folded piece of paper. After a minute or so, the entire group had them out and they began reciting the information--all at different times and with different levels of speaking ability.
"Wait"--she held up her hand--"let's listen." Elle knew the routine by heart. She approached the line and waited until she had their attention. "Everyone follow along with me." She walked slowly down the row of students. "Bus Route Number Ten will take us from the center at Cheyenne Boulevard and Nevada Avenue south past Meadows Road, left on Academy Boulevard to the shops."
"Academy Boulevard?" Carl Joseph stepped out of line, his forehead creased with worry. Carl Joseph was new to the center. He'd been coming for three months. His ability to become independent was questionable. "Is that in Colorado Springs or somewhere else?"
"It's here, Carl Joseph." Daisy patted his shoulder. "Right here in the Springs."
"Right." Elle grinned. Daisy could teach the class. "The whole bus trip will take about fifteen minutes."
He nodded, but he didn't look more sure of himself. "Okay. Okay, Teacher. If you say so, okay." He stepped back in line.
And so it went for the next half hour. Elle broke down the directions. The color of the bus--orange--and how much time they'd have to climb aboard and how long it would take to make the drive down to Academy Boulevard, and how many stops would happen between getting on and getting off the bus.
For many of them the lesson was a review. They tackled a different route every week, memorizing it, drawing it out, play-acting it, and finally incorporating it into a field trip on Friday. When they reached the end of the thirty most common bus routes, they'd start again at the beginning. But Elle's students had Down Syndrome, so most of them experienced varying degrees of short-term memory loss. Reviewing the bus routes could never happen often enough.
At the thirty-minute mark attention spans among the group were fading fast. Elle held out her hands. "Break time." She looked out the window again. It was a late April morning, and sunshine streamed in from a bright blue sky. "Fifteen minutes . . . outdoors today."
"Yippee!" Tammy, a student with long brown braids, jumped and did a half spin. "Outdoor break!"
"Ughh! I hate outdoors!" Sid scowled and punched at the air. At thirty, he was the oldest student at the center. "Hate, hate, hate."
"Don't be a hater." Gus shook a finger at the complaining student. "Ping-Pong is good for outdoors."
"Tag, you're it!" Brian tapped Gus on the shoulder and ran out the door laughing. Brian was a redhead who'd been coming to the center since Elle took over two years before. He was the happiest student by far. As he ran he yelled: "We could play tag and everyone could play tag!"
"I hate tag." Sid crossed his arms and stuck out his lower lip. "Hate, hate, hate."
The students headed for the door, all of them talking at once. Straggling behind and lost in their own world were Carl Joseph and Daisy. He was pointing outside. "No rain today, Daisy. Just big bright sunshine. That's thanks to God, right?"