[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.]
Blue Skies Tomorrow – Wings of Glory Book Three
By Sarah Sundin
Published 2011 by Revell
In Book Three of Sarah Sundin’s Wings of Glory trilogy, we meet Ray Novak, the oldest of the Novak brothers. As WWII raged on, Ray spent his time stateside training B-17 pilots. Ray is a minister and had desired to be a chaplain. It was the taunts of his former girlfriend that led him into being a pilot. Now, in the waning days of the war, B-17 instructors are being replaced by pilots returning from battle, so Ray is pushed into a desk job. His friends and even some of his own family believe Ray is a coward and afraid to go to war. In his heart, Ray hates the thought of killing innocent people but must confront what many believe is his cowardice.
When Ray is reassigned to a base near his hometown of Antioch, California he runs into Helen Carlisle. Helen was a minor character in the first two books and was left a widow with a young son when her husband’s ship was sunk in the Pacific. Helen had always had a crush on Ray, even though he is nine years her senior. Ray quickly falls in love with the young widow, but Helen’s erratic behavior gives Ray concern and when in a fit of temper she calls Ray a coward, he volunteers to be sent to Europe to fly bombing missions.
When Ray arrives in England, his brother Jack is his commanding officer. On his first bombing run, Ray has to abort his mission and word quickly spreads that he is a coward. Even Jack questions Ray’s ability and his reasons for aborting the mission. Ms. Sundin does an excellent job of exploring Ray’s deep-seated feelings. We see Ray’s inner battle and how he overcomes his fear of killing innocents. When Ray is shot down over enemy territory, he learns a lot about himself and what he is truly made of.
While Ray is away at war, we witness Helen’s own battles. Ms. Sundin delves into the complex subject of domestic abuse with great care and sensitivity. At times it was difficult for me, as a woman of our current culture, to not get frustrated with Helen, but I had to remind myself that things were different for women in the 40’s. I had to put myself in the shoes of a young girl with a small son who had very few options open to her.
I really liked how Ms. Sundin ties all three novels together at the end, where we get to see the entire Novak family reunited with one another. She also resolves some loose ends from the prior two novels. Once again the author shines in the area of character development and we get a clear picture of how Ray and Helen grow and change through their experiences and how their faith grows and sustains them through their difficult situations. Another very satisfying read from Sarah Sundin!