Leaning Into the Curves (Paperback)

by Nancy Anderson, Carroll H. Morris

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Leaningcurves5038088

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Reading this story was like sitting at the feet of a beloved grandmother, where she is effortlessly telling her life stories, and everything that she says is exactly what I needed to hear. [...] Oh, and they nailed the end. — Alice Gold

This story reminds me of a coming of age read, but adult version. [...] It makes for a sweet, light-hearted read. — Elizabeth Mueller

I'd recommend this book to both men and women ... — C.L. Beck

Leaning into the Curves offers a delightful view of a little-known group of faithful Latter-day Saints. Full of appealing characters and unexpected turns, it gives a new twist to what life can be like after “a certain age!”

Molly is happy with her life the way it is, but everything changes when her husband, Hank, retires. When Hank brings home a Gold Wing motorcycle and joins the Temple Riders Association, a “Mormon motorcycle gang” that combines road trips with temple work, things go from bad to worse. Faced with the prospect of being left behind as Hank hits the road with his new group of friends, Molly starts making some changes of her own.

  • A funny, often poignant, look at the challenges of reinventing life after sixty
  • From the co-authors of the popular series The Company of Good Women
  • The Temple Riders were featured in an October 2009 Footsteps of Faith documentary

Product Details

  • Size:  6" x 9"
  • Pages:  272
  • Published:  2010

About the Authors

Carroll Morris was one of the many people who say, ’I’d write if I had time.’ When her family spent a year in Germany (1982-83), she had time so she started work on what would be her first Deseret Book novel, The Broken Covenant.


Several other novels and the non-fiction book, If the Gospel Is True, Why Do I Hurt So Much?, followed. But when the first of her four children graduated from high school, she went to work as a catalog copywriter to help with tuition expenses.

Fifteen years later, Carroll was vacationing in Moab, Utah, with her sister, Nancy Anderson, and writer Lael Littke. Nancy said, ‘Why don’t we write a book together?’ After several years of poking away at their project, they
got serious. The book turned into The Company of Good Women trilogy.

Now that the trilogy is complete, they’re looking at doing individual
projects. Will they ever write together again? ‘Maybe,’Carroll says.
There’s a wonderful synergy between the three of them that makes the process
exciting.

Carroll and her husband, Gary, are the parents of four children. They live
in the retirement community of Green Valley, Arizona. Once a month, a group
of women meet at her home. In a take-off from the trilogy, she calls it ‘The
Gathering of Good Women.’ Carroll’s hobbies include reading, hiking,
bird-watching, gardening, and traveling.

Chapter 1

Saturday breakfast on Monday was Molly’s first clue that life after her husband’s retirement really was going to be different.

She’d gone down to the Stay Out Room that morning to fetch some ribbon and paper to wrap the silly gift she’d bought him, an “I’m Retired” version of a handicapped parking permit.

Too bad I can’t levitate, she’d thought as she stood in the doorway. The plastic box holding her wrapping paper and ribbon was in the built-in cupboards on the far wall, and piles of finished, almost finished, and abandoned projects covered the floor between her and the shelves.

She scooped up a mound of the yarn she’d purchased when half the women in her ward had been knitting dressy scarves on fat needles. She tossed the leftover, brick-hard clay from her Native American art project into the trash can by the door. She was trying to figure out where to shove a pile of textbooks from the many classes she’d taken when her favorite weekend smell, frying bacon, wafted down the stairs and tickled her nose.

That could mean only one thing. Hank was at the stove, preparing his cardiac special: eggs, extra-thick bacon, and pancakes with blueberry syrup.

Only it wasn’t Saturday, it was Monday. And not just any Monday. It was Labor Day and the first day of Hank’s retirement from his job as an environmental engineer at Kennecott Copper—a coincidence she knew he considered a fine irony.

He must be fixing it to celebrate, she thought. She backed carefully out of the room, shut the door, and took the stairs up to the kitchen two at a time.

Hank stood in front of the stove, pancake turner in hand. Except for wearing his Saturday Chef apron, he looked the same as he had -every Monday morning for as long as she could remember. He’d showered and shaved—she could smell his citrusy cologne—and combed his still-thick gray hair back from his forehead. He was dressed as if for work in creased chinos and a collared cotton shirt, and he had the stance of a man with something to accomplish.

“Morning.” She put her arms around him from behind as he flipped a pancake. “Happy Labor-slash-Retirement Day.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” he said, tossing her an air kiss over his shoulder.

She rested her cheek against his back and gave him the double squeeze that was her way of saying, “I love you and I’m glad you’re here.” A wrestler in high school and college, he had a wiry frame she’d always thought was a perfect fit for her petite stature. He’d gotten love handles in middle age that his exercise routine had never fully banished, but she didn’t mind. She rather liked them.

He put the last pancake on the platter and turned to face her. “Do you realize this is the first time I haven’t been gainfully employed since I was thirteen? That was the year my dad died and the old uncs gave me a job at the Mancuso Auto Shop.”

With her index finger Molly calculated the math in the air. “Let’s see, sixty-five minus thirteen equals . . . Wow. You’ve worked for over half a century.”

“No wonder it feels strange not to have someplace to be or something to do.”

He turned back to the stove and started to make the scrambled eggs. She began setting the table for two. She didn’t normally eat much for breakfast during the week, usually a smoothie or yogurt and toast. But since this was a special occasion, she decided to eat what he’d prepared and work it off later.

She put a half gallon of milk on the table, wondering how her husband would handle this abrupt transition. His whole adult life had been focused on work and family. He hadn’t developed an interest in any hobbies or connected with a group of buddies to do things with. When she’d asked him what he planned to do next, he’d said, “Maybe I’ll make a list of all the things I’ve wanted to see and do but haven’t had time for. Even if I check off one adventure a day, I figure there will be enough on my list to keep me busy the rest of my life.”

That had seemed strangely vague, coming from her plan-ahead, live-by-the-numbers husband, but Molly hadn’t pushed him to be more specific. Now she wished she had. Change is coming, she thought, and it makes me nervous. Hank may have retired from his everyday schedule, but I haven’t.

As a stay-at-home mom, Molly had centered her life on her children. Laurel, the daughter she still struggled to understand, was their firstborn. After her came Wade, the son Molly knew so well that he once accused her of eavesdropping on his thoughts. Each step the two had made toward independence had been like a highway sign letting Molly know she was getting closer to the day they wouldn’t need her mothering the way they had when they were little.

That had allowed her to ease into a new phase of her life. These days, it was structured around her family, friends, church, the classes she loved, and performances at her parents’ dinner theater. It hadn’t been easy to make the adjustment, but she was in a good place now, and frankly, she didn’t want Hank rocking her boat.

They tucked into the big breakfast he’d cooked. While they ate, the conversation centered on the upcoming retirement celebrations: the family dinner Molly had organized for that evening and the open house on Saturday.

“I’m glad you made reservations at Lugano’s.” Hank poured himself a second glass of milk. “We haven’t been there for a while and it’s my favorite place to eat.”

“I don’t know how you’re going to make room for a big dinner after this breakfast.”

“I can always make room for food that tastes like my mother’s cooking. Now, what are we going to do for the rest of the day?”

Here it comes, Molly thought. “Is there something on your adventure list you’d like to do?”

“It’s nice weather. We could take that Lake Bonneville hike you’ve been talking about ever since you had that class on Utah geology.”

The hike ran across the foothills of the Wasatch Range along what had been the shoreline of the ancient Lake Bonneville. It offered great views of Salt Lake and opportunities for bird watching. “I’d love to,” she said. “I’ll bring my camera along.” She’d recently signed up for a class on how to use digital cameras, and she was eager to take some photos using what she’d learned.

They spent longer than they’d anticipated on the trail, so they were pressed for time when they returned to their three-bedroom rambler off Creek Road in Sandy to get ready for their evening out. Even with Molly putting on her makeup while Hank drove to Lugano’s, they got there with only a few moments to spare.

Laurel was waiting for them when they walked inside. Thirty-eight and single, she was a litigator in a firm focusing on corporate law. “Happy retirement, Dad.” She gave Hank a hug and then linked arms with him as he told her how he’d spent his day.

They’re a pair, those two, Molly thought. Although Laurel had inherited Molly’s blonde, blue-eyed looks, she had inherited her father’s careful, thoughtful personality. Her stunning eyes, which were emphasized by her short precision haircut, could be affectionate but were mostly cool and assessing.

Wade and his family arrived right behind them. He was tall like Molly’s father but dark like Hank’s side of the family. His grin was pure Wade. He held open the door for his pregnant wife, Heather, and their three children. Lisa, the oldest at age eleven, was followed by Hayden, nine, and five-year-old Katie. After a flurry of greetings, the whole group followed the hostess into the dining area.

Molly could tell carrottop Hayden was itching to tell her and Hank something. He bounced on the seat of the family-size booth with barely contained excitement, and he kept looking at his father as if asking for permission.

Finally Wade gave his son a nod. “Go ahead, tell them.”

“We got a four-wheeler today! Dad took us for rides on it. It’s wicked bad!”

Molly gaped. “Wade! How could you do that? You know how I feel about anything resembling a motorcycle. If it doesn’t have—”

“Four wheels and a hardtop, it isn’t safe. I know, Mom. You’ve been telling me that since I was fourteen and wanted a scooter.”

“It does have four wheels, Grandma,” Lisa said earnestly.

“And we have hard-tops.” Hayden’s eyes danced. “Our helmets!”

The fact that Wade had discussed her fear with his family and then done the very thing he knew would trigger it left her speechless.

She’d been only six years old when a motorcycle gang had pulled into a rest stop where her family was having lunch after a gig. The throaty rumble of the machines and the rough look of the riders had terrified her. Her fear was exacerbated when, years later, she was the first to arrive on the scene of a bloody motorcycle accident near her and Hank’s starter home in Murray. Over time, her fear became part of who she was. Sometimes months or even years went by without her feeling the slightest twinge of it, but then some sound or sight would poke it awake, setting her heart pounding.

“It’s a work vehicle, Mom, not a souped-up street cycle,” Wade said reassuringly. “I’ll only use it around the farm and for going back and forth to the theater.” Both Molly’s parents and Wade’s family lived on the homestead where the Finley Family Theater was located.

Heather patted Molly’s hand. “Don’t worry. Wade will be careful. Especially when the kids ride with him.”

When the kids ride with him?

Molly was tempted to launch into all the reasons why that should never, ever happen, but this was Hank’s night, and she didn’t want to spoil it. Summoning every ounce of her self-control, she nodded and changed the subject.

Hank himself brought it up again on the way home, saying how useful the ATV would be on the farm. When she tried to express her concern about Wade’s purchase, he said, “Come on, Molly. That’s an old horse. Isn’t it time you let it die a natural death?”

Except for dinner out, Monday set the pattern for the rest of the week. First Hank got ready for the day as if he were expected at the office. Then he made a hot breakfast, which grew increasingly more elaborate. When they were finished eating, he asked the question, “What shall we do today?”

By the time Friday dawned, Molly felt as though her life had been preempted. While she’d enjoyed their outings, she’d had to cancel a movie afternoon with her best friend, Micheline Uttley. The laundry was piling up, and she could have written a novel in the dust covering her dining room table.

Hank seemed unaware of the havoc his plans were wreaking on her daily schedule. Is this going to be the way the rest of my life goes? Molly wondered. Stuffing myself with gigantic breakfasts every morning and then doing whatever activity he’s come up with? If it is, I might as well sign up for Weight Watchers right now and get a running start.

The thought made her shudder. Hank’s adventure-a-day plan was not working for her, and sooner rather than later she was going to have to tell him. Could she do it without hurting his feelings? Perhaps. Early in their marriage, she’d learned that if she used a light tone and kept her expression pleasant, he would be more likely to listen to what she needed to say.

She was contemplating how to approach him when he called, “Molly, breakfast’s ready.”

She joined him in the kitchen. After a week he was still dressing as if he were on his way to work. Somehow she’d had the idea he might switch to jeans and a T-shirt and maybe go without shaving once in a while.

Guess not.

He’d outdone himself making breakfast this time. In the middle of the table was a platter of bull’s eyes—eggs over pork and beans over toast, a dish he’d learned to like on his mission to England. He pulled out a chair for her and then took his own seat while revealing his plans for the day. “The Mt. Nebo loop should be beautiful this time of year. If we leave by nine, we can be back by suppertime.”

Another whole day lost sent Molly’s plan for the light approach out the window. “Honestly, Hank. Retirement isn’t six Saturdays followed by a Sunday.”

“No? That’s exactly how it feels.”

“I hope you’re not thinking we’re going to do the same thing next week. And the week after that.”

“Why not? The kids are grown and on their own. The house practically takes care of itself.”

Molly didn’t know whether she should make a scene or make an appointment to have his cognitive skills evaluated.

“The children may be grown, but the house does not run itself,” she said with exaggerated sweetness. “Meals do not spontaneously generate, and the laundry does not show up clean and folded in your drawers by magic. You may have retired, but I haven’t. I still have a schedule, and I need to get back to it. And to my normal breakfast.”

Hank looked from her to the platter and back again. “I take it you don’t want to eat this.”

She laughed in spite of herself. “I’ll eat it if you promise not to cook breakfast tomorrow.”

“But tomorrow’s Saturday.”

“Hank!”

“Just kidding.”

Molly enjoyed the bull’s eyes, though she ate only part of what was on her plate and felt like a stuffed toad afterward. She also enjoyed the drive over the Mt. Nebo loop Hank had planned for them. But their unfinished conversation niggled at her. They had to come to an understanding about their life post-retirement, and soon.

Heavens to Murgatroyd, Molly thought, using one of her father’s favorite phrases. What am I going to do with that man?

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Insightful and Fun!

by  Keri  -   reviewed on  May 26, 2010

A Mormon Motorcycle Gang?! Who knew?! The Temple Riders Association (TRA) is interesting enough on its own to fill a novel. When it enters the life of solid-as-a-rock Hank and artsy-motor-cycle-phobic Molly, it puts their marriage to the ultimate test. Though I'm not an empty nester, I related to many of the conflicts Molly and Hank have to resolve as they realize once again just how different they are. I found their adventures and the change in perspective they lead to both entertaining and enlightening. Leaning Into The Curves is populated with fun, colorful characters I won't soon forget. A wonderful novel for fiction lovers of any age.

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Loved it!

by  Karen  -   reviewed on  August 23, 2012

Leaning Into the Curves reminds us all about the necessity to evolve and adapt - a big part of life. Molly's fears about riding the motorcycle were magnified by the changes happening to her life and daily routine after her husband retired. I'm heading down the road to retirement near the end of this decade so this story really hit home. I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my life and hoping I can also lean into the curves! Snap a copy up at this great price. They're practically giving it away!

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Great book for anyone afraid to ride!

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  September 02, 2010

As a person who has only been on the back of a motorcycle for a couple of years now, I thought this book conveyed how someone might feel as a new co-rider. While Molly seemed to be a little over the top with her fears, I imagine there are some that are scared to ride with their spouse/boyfriend, etc. I was at first, but am so glad that I did/do ride - I even ride my own motorcycle now! Also,I was grateful that the author's didn't say anything negative towards Harley-Davidson motorcycles. As members of the TRA, we have found this not to be the case. We have encountered negative comments/jokes from fellow TRA members about Harley's. It seems like if you aren't on a GoldWing you don't fit in with them. In our opinion, it shouldn't matter what you ride, but that you want to ride with other people who have the same standards that you do. The TRA as a whole is a good organization and we have made some wonderful friends through it.

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Fun read

by  Anthony  -   reviewed on  October 16, 2010

From the beginning of this book I noticed that the authors were throwing out too many full names of characters and people that I didn't really need to pay attention to. I will usually skim over the names of certain individuals in a book unless it mentions their full name because then you figure they are going to play a prominent part in the rest of the story. Not likely in this case and that was a common annoyance in the first few chapters of this book. That being said, the book was an enjoyable read. I believe the main character Molly overeacted a bit with her fears of riding a motorcycle, but that's what made it fun. There was a perfect mix of humor and drama with the real romance seeming to take place outside the relationship of Molly and Hank with her daughter and friend. This book really is perfect for anyone who needs to overcome the fear of riding a bike or understanding the need to cruise. I would recommend it to adults, not necessarily teen age readers as they might not catch an interest.

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