Fiction Fest: A second lap with Sarah Dunster’s ‘Mile 21’

Mile 21_2x3The Deseret News recently reviewed Sarah Dunster’s “Mile 21,” calling the book “…a complex novel that poignantly depicts the emotions of dealing with the death of a spouse.”

Today’s excerpt is the last free peek at the book you’ll get from us, so hurry over to your local book store or visit your favorite online retailer to get your copy today.

“Mile 21” was released on Oct. 8, 2013.

About the book:
Abish Miller is a mess. But you might be too if you were a twenty-one-year-old widow with a dysfunctional family, an overpowering boss, and a torturous return to the singles’ scene. Training for the marathon she and her husband never got to run is about the only time she can forget about her problems.

But life won’t leave her alone. It throws Bob Hartley, a recently divorced young father, into her living room and then her ward. And when her irritation turns into attraction, she’s sure that it must be some sort of cosmic joke, especially when it seems he loathes her! Feeling like she just keeps hitting the wall, Abish must learn to push past her fears or she’ll never achieve her personal best.

Defined by sharp wit and an authentic voice, “Mile 21” shows the despair of giving up on hope—and the joy of choosing it again.


Abish is foiled in (or rescued from?) her angsty attempt to pummel people during a singles’ ward co-ed football game.

I turn my attention back to the game, but my heart’s not in it for the win anymore. I’m running slower, taking turns with less precision, not watching for fumbles.

And then—miracle of miracles—someone throws the ball to Noah again.

I speed after him. I’m not letting you get away this time.

“Hey, Robert, you playing?” someone calls from behind me.


I falter for a moment, watching Bob trot onto the field, and then I turn back toward Noah. I quicken my pace until I’m all-out running. The logo on the back of his T-shirt is my bull’s-eye. I’m coming for him.

And then, suddenly I’m down in the dirt with the wind completely knocked out of me. “What?” I wheeze, looking up into Bob’s grim countenance. “This isn’t tackle.”

“No,” he says pointedly. “It’s not.” He stands and holds out a hand, but I scramble to my feet on my own.

“What’d you do that for? You’re on my team, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” He turns and runs toward the melee, which is now at the end of the field near the other team’s goal line. I stand there stupidly, watching him and wondering what just happened.

“Goooooo, Noah!” someone screams. It’s Emory. She’s jumping up and down on the sideline.

He’s still got possession. Thank you, Heavenly Father. Rage makes a good engine. It gets me across the field faster than I’ve ever run before. I’m like a heat-seeking missile. I can taste sweet, sweet victory on my tongue.

But then I notice that Bob is headed toward me again full tilt. I try not to pay attention, to keep after my target, but as I see that determined look on his face, as I sense his large form gaining rapidly on me, I feel a strange thrill along with a healthy measure of sheer, cold terror. “Nooo!” I manage to shriek before he takes me down again.

This time it hurts. It really does.

As I rise from the mud, gasping, I mask my pain with my most supercilious smile. “Thank you for that,” I gasp. “Maybe we should run after the ball, though?”

Noah’s still in possession somehow. And he’s coming my way. It’s like Heavenly Father’s blessing me, I think as I rise back to my feet. In a second, he’ll be within a few feet of me. It’s like he wants me to—

Yeah. It’s like a bear cuffing a kitten. I’m on the ground again. “Stop it!” I shout. I try to sit up, but Bob won’t even let me do that. He puts a hand on the crown of my head and casually pushes me down again. Then he leans over me and puts his hands on my shoulders, holding me there.

He doesn’t say anything. I try to squirm out from under his hold, but yeah. There’s no way on this planet. I’m so angry, I’m in danger of saying a few words that are not usually heard at BYU-I singles’ activities. “Let go of me!”


I stare at him for a moment. His dark eyes are completely calm. Suddenly—don’t ask me why—I’m laughing, hard. So hard, I’m almost crying.

His eyes narrow, and he breaks into a smile. It’s completely devastating. I couldn’t move even if he didn’t have me thoroughly pinned. “Learned your lesson?” he asks.

“Um.” I bend my neck, trying to brush an itchy spot of mud off my cheek onto my shoulder. “Maybe.”

“No maybe.”

“Uncle. Open Sesame. Okay, yes, I’ve learned my lesson.”

He backs off me and kneels, offering me a hand. I take it this time.

“What the crud do you think you’re doing? I don’t even have the ball, and I’m on your team!”

“Saving you,” he says, leading me off the field, “from yourself.”