Revell (September 1, 2010)
I read Sarah’s debut novel and the launch of this series, A Distant Melody, rather quickly. When I discovered it was just the beginning I began impatiently trying to discover when the next book(s) were to be released. Sundin draws readers into the lives of her characters and their experiences. Ruth is serving in Britain as a military nurse. She keeps mostly to herself, afraid that her past will continue to haunt her. Her parents struggled to support their large family and once her father was no longer able to perform his job, Ruth takes on the responsibility for supporting her siblings though she is a naive thirteen. After her boyfriend makes a comment to her she decides to earn money to keep food on her family’s table the only way that seems available. All too soon her innocence is crushed as well as her spirit when bullies assault her verbally and physically. Though she regrets the path her choices land her on, she struggles with giving her life back to the God she blames for the devastating experience which stole whatever childhood she may have still possessed. Her roommate, May, is also the only one that shows Ruth any warmth. As the only Nurse who refuses to fraternize with their patients or other hospital staff, Ruth eventually finds friendship with an injured pilot on her ward. Jack is put off by the severity of some of the other nurses but Ruth’s manner endears her in his eyes. Not wanting to lose her only source of income which is the only thing between her siblings under guardianship of their extended family and the streets or an orphanage, Ruth remains stalwart in her observance of the military expectations. As Jack begins to recover he yearns to be back in his plane with a crew who operates like clockwork. His buddy and fellow crew member Charlie comes to visit and they both find friendship and perhaps love with May and Ruth. However, if Ruth’s history ever comes to light she is scared it will destroy her chances to remain in the occupation she has chosen. Between her childish attempts to protect her siblings and her own experiences with betrayal Ruth shies away from any intimacy whether with her fellow nurses or the patients whose care is in her hands. Can Jack break through the protective walls she has erected about herself and trust God to provide for them and the healing both lives require? Can Charlie break through Jack’s pride and self-reliance with his reminders of the Lord’s sufficiency? Will Ruth’s past and emotional wounds sabotage the chance of a loving family and support of a protective husband?
Though Ruth and Jack made brief appearances in the story of A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us is their moment in the lime light. Although Wings of Glory is written as a series, the novels would be better described as companion volumes. Different characters perform the main roles in each book and secondary characters are brought in from the other novels, but the stories could certainly be read in any order and apart from one another with no loss of key backstory. Since her first book, Sarah brings alive the locations, people, and events around which these books are built. In this second book readers are transported along with Ruth and Jack to the European Theatre of WWII and the allied installments of Britain. Though I personally wouldn’t choose to fly Jack and Ruth both experience an exhiliration from flying and yearn for more of the freedom and excitement experienced on their first trip aloft. Be sure and get your hands on a copy of this book to experience the sights and emotions presented through these characters. (ISBN#9780800734220, 432pp, $14.99)