Fiction Fest: Jumping the gun with Sarah Dunster’s ‘Mile 21’

Mile 21_2x3“Mile 21” is the latest LDS fiction novel from Sarah Dunster, author of “The Lightning Tree,” and will officially be released on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

The singles ward is the last place Abish wants to be. But after the unexpected death of her husband (and after being kicked out of her mom’s place), she has to move into single-student housing to finish up her schooling. Maybe training for a marathon and winning the heart of the handsome executive secretary are exactly what Abish needs to get a personal best.

In addition to bookstores, “Mile 21” is also available from online retailers.


Abish, the main character, is escaping from thanksgiving dinner by going to sit at the kids’ table.

“Hey,” I interrupt Todd. “Do you mind if I sit next to you?”

Promptly Todd scoots his chair to the side, making room for me. I grab a paper plate and sit cross-legged on the floor. The table comes up to about my neck, but it works. I serve myself a good helping of the pink stuff, adding several olives and some mashed potatoes.

“I don’t like olives,” Todd declares, watching me spear one with my fork. “They make good hats, but they taste gross.”


Todd demonstrates, sticking olives on two of his fingers. “Or they might be shoes.” He walks the fingers olive-side down like a pair of legs with shiny black shoes on.

“Those are some fancy shoes.”

“That’s nothing. I can do it too.” A little redheaded boy—clearly of Barnes stock—sticks olives on all his fingers and begins wiggling them across the table top.

Todd gives it a critical glance. “That guy has too many legs.”

“He’s an octopus.”

“Octopuses don’t wear shoes.”

“Sure they do,” I cut in, seeing the way the redheaded boy’s eyes narrow and how Todd’s face is flushing. “And they can tap dance. Look.” I take several olives from the bowl, stick them on all my fingers, and begin drumming them on the table. “Tea for two, two for tea,” I sing. The eight-year-old girl looks at me like I’m completely crazy, but the rest of them are grinning like it’s the best show they’ve ever seen.

I change tunes and do a slightly more intricate routine, acting like my two hands are octopus dance partners. “I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair,” I sing, just as the kitchen door opens, nearly walloping me in the rear, and Bob sticks his head in. His glance travels from my startled face to my olive-clad fingers.

“What are you teaching my son?” he asks finally, leaning over to ruffle Todd’s hair.

“She’s showing us how octopuses can tap dance,” Todd replies calmly, stuffing his face with pink Jell-O fluff.

“Are the octopuses feminist?”

“The song’s from South Pacific—you know, the musical.” I remove the olives one by one, piling them on my plate.

“Sure it is.” Bob’s expression doesn’t change, so I can’t tell if he’s serious or not.