[Note: Not only am I an author, I am also an avid reader. It is my hope to offer periodic book reviews to give you a glimpse at my bookshelf, and hopefully encourage you to pick up a good book. Most of what I read is from a Christian worldview, although I do read some secular books from time to time.]
A Memory Between Us – Wings of Glory, Book 2
By Sarah Sundin
Published 2010 by Revell
In this second book of Sarah Sundin’s Wings of Glory trilogy, A Memory Between Us opens with nurse Lt. Ruth Doherty saving the life of a young man in one of England’s evacuation hospitals. The beautiful nurse is constantly having to fend off the staff physician so she quickly asks for a transfer to a new hospital that is setting up in Suffolk and is very short-staffed.
Wherever she goes, Ruth is hated by the other nurses because of her good looks and standoffish attitude. All the male patients adore her and she is forever dealing with marriage proposals. Things are no different when she arrives in Suffolk and meets the handsome, dashing B-17 pilot Major Jack Novak who was wounded in the backside when shrapnel penetrated his aircraft.
Growing up in a Chicago slum, Ruth and her siblings were orphaned when Ruth was just a teen. She joined the Army Nurse Corpse to provide for her brothers and sisters who are now parsed out among family members. Providing for her family is Ruth’s sole focus. She never allows herself any luxuries and she never allows herself to contemplate falling in love, or even having close friendships.
Jack grew up in a close-knit family and longs to find true love and settle down like his brother, Walter. Like so many of her other patients, he immediately falls for Ruth. Eventually he begins to win her over and a friendship develops between the two. But Ruth’s past holds some deep, dark secrets that she has hidden in her heart for years. The prideful, somewhat arrogant and ambitious Jack has many lessons to learn if he hopes to win Ruth’s wounded heart.
As in the first book, there is great character development shown throughout this novel. Jack has to do some deep soul-searching – does he want to follow his father’s footsteps and become a pastor, or does he want to follow his heart, stay in the military and remain a pilot? At one point, Jack’s pride puts his crew in danger and his best friend becomes a casualty because of it. The author does a terrific job of conveying Ruth’s anxiety when memories of her past come back to haunt her. Her vulnerability and strength both shine through. We witness Ruth’s struggle to come to terms with God “allowing” the bad things in her life to happen, and growing to trust Him despite the heartaches she has suffered. The scene where Jack learns of Ruth’s “moral breech” and confronts her was riveting and extremely emotional – even though you end up believing Jack to be a real jerk! The characters in this novel are for more than the cardboard cutouts you find in so many of today’s books.
I enjoyed the development of the friendships between Jack and his best friend Charlie, and Ruth and May. Mrs. Sundin does an excellent job of portraying the ups and downs of friendship, especially during a time of war. Since Ruth had always rebuffed any attempts at friendship, I found the development of her friendship with May to be very touching. May is Ruth’s stalwart supporter after Jack’s rejection.
After Jack confronts Ruth, she decides to apply to the Army Air Force School of Air Evacuation, which offers higher pay and would allow her to do more to support her siblings. Once again she makes enemies of her fellow nurses, especially when she gains the notice of a charming technician, Sergeant Burns, who refuses to take no for an answer. The conflict between Ruth and Sergeant Burns takes up the majority of the last third of the novel.
If I had to voice one negative observation, it would be that I find these books to be just a little too long. I feel the conflict goes on just a bit longer than is necessary and I find myself skipping ahead (I did this in the first book also). I don’t know if this is the fault of the author or of my impatient personality. I do go back and read each scene completely, but as I said, I found myself getting just a bit bored and frustrated with some of the pace of the action.
Once again, Mrs. Sundin did an amazing amount of research for these books and the details are meticulous, especially the flight and air combat sequences. She manages to keep the tension between Ruth and Jack up until the very last chapter. Overall, A Memory Between Us is a very satisfying, enjoyable read.