Saturday, October 9, 2010

‘A Memory Between Us’ by Sarah Sundin – Book Review

Buzz this

I have been reading and reviewing long enough here on my blog that I am getting to the second books by select authors. The latest book to fall into that category is ‘A Memory Between Us’ by the wonderful Sarah Sundin.

Here is the synopsis of this novel:
Can they overcome the past to find a brighter future together? 
Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge – until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth’s heart a top-priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him. Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she also is determined not to give her heart to any man.
As the dangers and tensions of World War II rise to a fever pitch, Jack and Ruth will need each other more than ever. Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?
From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.  

Here is the biography of this author:

Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant Melody. She lives in northern California with her husband, three children, a cat, and a yellow lab prone to eating pens and manuscripts. She  works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. Her great-uncle flew with the U.S. Eight Air Force in England.

Sarah does a terrific job in researching the world as it was back in World War II. Her attention to detail is amazing! I have had an interest in World War II since I was in elementary school, when my sixth grade teacher assigned us to read ‘The Diary of Anne Frank.’ This excerpt shows both Sarah’s depth of knowledge of her subject, as well as Jack’s desire to take down the Nazis:

He set hands on hips and surveyed the airfield, the coordinated rush of men and trucks, the smell of aviation fuel and nervous excitement – boy, was it swell. At Thurleigh Army Air Field, two squadrons from the 94th had been training with the veteran 306th Bomb Group, while the other two squadrons took lessons from the 91st Bomb Group at Bassingbourn. The 306th was Jack’s younger brother, Walt’s, group.
Former group.
“Poor kid.” Jack couldn’t wait to get back in combat and take a few shots at the Nazis who had put Walt in an Oxford hospital with his right arm amputated. (p. 16)

Jack had a strong faith, having graduated from seminary and expecting to follow in his father’s footsteps as a pastor. He had his flaws, however:

He forgot to pray. Jack paused on hands and knees. He was his father’s namesake, his father’s image, except Dad wouldn’t forget to pray. Neither would Walt, and Walt was the only Novak man who wasn’t a pastor. His older brother, Ray, probably prayed whole psalms from memory, translated them into Hebrew for fun, Greek and Latin if he was bored.
But Jack – fine pastor he was. He closed his eyes. Lord, please direct this mission. Guide these bombs straight to the target. Please keep us safe and get all 169 planes back intact. He opened one eye and glanced at his watch. Time to report to his station. In Jesus’s name, amen. (p. 17)

Ruth’s faith was weak. When Jack makes Ruth’s acquaintance at the hospital in which he was taken after an accident, he gave her food for thought:

          His lips bent in a little smile. “Know something? God loves you.”
Ruth almost dropped the empty syringe. Her mind whipped back to her prayer at the end of her shift. “Excuse me?”
“He does,” he said, voice slurred, eyes closed. “God really, really loves you.”
How could this man know? He couldn’t have heard her pray. She hadn’t spoken out loud, had she? “Why-why did you say that?”
‘S’true. Christ died for you. S’all you need to know.” (p. 27)

Ruth had a hard time forgiving herself for indiscretions that happened in her life ten years earlier as a very enterprising thirteen year old. On a furlough to London, her imagination ran a little wild:

She dragged herself up the steps of the monument and circled the marble rising in carved splendor to golden winged figures on top. Ruth gazed up at Queen Victoria bright in the midday sun in all her marble purity. The queen looked down her pure white nose with disdain in her pure white eyes. She knew. She knew Ten-Penny Doherty in her filthy shame, sullying her beautiful land. (p. 163)

Another nurse, May, became a close friend of Ruth. She helped Ruth grow closer in her relationship with the Lord:

          “….Have you asked God to forgive you?”
“So many times I’ve lost count.” Her mouth puckered. No, she would not cry her first day at the School of Air Evacuation.
“Then he’s already forgiven you. Now you can heal.”
Ruth’s head shook from side to side. As a nurse, she knew of no procedure or medication or surgery to remove shame.
“God can heal you. Trust him.” May patted Ruth’s hand. “The first step was taken for you. Your secret’s out in the open.”
She closed her eyes and tried to laugh. “Oh yeah, that helped.”
“Didn’t it?”
Ruth held her breath. Hasn’t she told whiny Lieutenant Baker how a closed wound festered? Her wound had been closed for eight gangrenous years, but now it had lanced, now it was exposed to oxygen, and now perhaps it could heal. (p. 222)

I really enjoyed how Sarah incorporated the story of the Book of Ruth into this story of Ruth. Here’s an example; Jack gave her a beautiful evening gown:

Ruth stared at the gown, the note, the gown again. Why on earth did Jack feel compelled to buy it? She’d gone twenty-four years without a fancy dress, and she hardly needed one now.
The silk caressed her hand, as cool and slippery as water. Jack knew she’d never owned anything this nice. He was trying to fill a hole in her life, Boaz lifting the corner of his robe to cover her. (p. 269)

As time went on, Ruth realized God was trustworthy, and had her best interests at heart; she needed to be patient:

Now she knew it was the Lord’s doing, not hers. Ma always said God would provide, and he did. How much more would he have provided if she’d trusted him? She’s been too impatient to wait for him, like Sarah giving Abraham her handmaid, like Jacob stealing his father’s blessing. God still provided in spite of their sin, in spite of hers, but with long-reaching consequences and broken relationships. (p. 278)

I really loved the ending to this book; it was quite satisfying. Sarah did a great job of fleshing out these characters, and making us care about them and their well-being.

This book would be great for a book club. These are Discussion Questions at the ends that are deep and thought-provoking. They focus on the book and its characters, then on the reader. Here’s an example of one:

Jack sees Ruth as wearing a “cloak of shame.” How does shame weigh Ruth down? How does she learn to throw off her shame, and how does this change her life? Have you ever felt the burden of shame? Have you thrown it off? (p. 439)

I read the first book in this ‘Wings of Glory’ series, ‘A Distant Melody,’ and loved it (you can read my review here). That book focused on Jack’s brother, Walt. This book was equally as good! I am glad Sarah is keeping the memory of the ‘Greatest Generation’ alive for those of us who never personally experienced that turbulent time in world history.  

The third book in the ‘Wings of Glory’ series is entitled ‘Blue Skies Tomorrow;’ it will release August 2011. It will follow the storyline of the third Novak brother, Raymond. I am sure it is equally as spectacular as this one, and I look forward to reading this next work by this wonderful author!

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Revell, and provided by the LitFuse Group for review purposes. I am happy to be participating in the blog tour with these other bloggers.


Diane said...

I really loved her first book. Haven't gotten to the second one yet. :O)

Sarah Sundin said...

Andrea - thanks for the fantastic review! I'm so glad you enjoyed Jack & Ruth's story as well as Walt & Allie's.

Andrea Schultz said...

Sarah -

Thanks for stopping by to read and comment! I am indeed a fan of your work - and think you're a pretty swell lady to boot! Hey, that last thing sounded like something they would have said back in World War II! I Googled the expression just now (!!!) and its origins are ancient!

Anyway, I pray success for this book and future books in the series!

Blessings -


Clicky Web Analytics