Welcome to Litfuse Publicity’s Blog Tour for A Memory Between Us
Lieutenant Penelope Ruth Doherty grew up on the mean streets of Chicago during the Depression. In 1932, when she was just twelve years old, her father suffered an on-the-job injury – a broken back – that ended his ability to work. Her mother’s meager earnings were insufficient to care for Penny and her seven younger siblings. Desperate times, desperate measures . . . within a year, Penny did the only thing she could think of to help her mother put food on the table. With a few years, both of her parents were dead, and Penny became a nurse in order to support herself and her family. It is now early 1943 and Ruth, as she has been known since leaving Chicago, is stationed in a London hospital where she cares for wounded soldiers — and routinely turns down their propositions, telling them “I don’t date.” She has a roommate, May, but no friends. Rather, she leads a solitary life, determined to be virtuous and moral, foregoing entertainment and luxuries in order to send every spare cent back home to the aunts and uncles who are caring for her youngest brothers and sisters.
Major Jack Novak, a native of Antioch, California, is a fighter pilot, as well as seminary graduate. His older brother, Ray, is stationed in San Diego. Walt, the youngest of the three, resides in Seattle, Washington, and is learning to write with his left hand after losing his right arm. Jack has always been the most handsome, charming and charismatic of the three brothers — a natural leader. Although his father is strong, the three years he spent in seminary were the most difficult of his life to date, and he is not at all sure that he wants to follow their father into the ministry, despite his father’s insistence that he do so.
Jack’s good friend and bombardier, Charlie, knows that Jack has never set a goal for himself that he did not achieve. But his luck may have run out when he decides that he is going to make Ruth fall in love with him. Shot down during his very first mission, Jack is wounded in his “bum” and thigh, requiring a weeks-long hospitalization during which he finds himself drawn to the beautiful, but mysterious Ruth.
A Memory Between Us is the second installment in author Sarah Sundin’s Wings of Glory series. The first, A Distant Melody, focused on Walt Novak, while the third installment, due in August 2011, Blue Skies Tomorrow, will tell Ray Novak’s story.
Sundin’s two novels are epic. Meticulously researched, A Memory Between Us is replete with authentic details about World War II, and the men and women who fought for our freedom. From the very first page, Sundin pulls her readers into damp, gray London where 23-year-old Ruth cares for those who have been injured in battle. She is fighting her own internal battle into which Sundin provides subtle glimpses, compelling you to keep reading in order to fully understand why Ruth is so full of self-loathing. As a military nurse, she is held to the highest standards of moral and ethical conduct, but she continually prays for forgiveness for her sinful behavior, even though she is quite confident that those unrelenting prayers will never be answered.
Until, that is, one day when a handsome B-17 pilot who has just come out of surgery for his injuries tells her, in his morphine-induced state, “God really, really loves you. That’s all you need to know.” Ruth is dumb-struck, wondering how that soldier could possibly know that she had just been asking God, yet again, to answer her ongoing prayer.
So begins the journey of the brash Major Novak back to health and his squadron. He sets in motion a four-part plan to win the heart of the nurse who intrigues him in a way no other woman ever has, even though he could easily win the heart — and hand — of any available young woman. But Jack’s life is not as easy as outward appearances suggest. There is the matter of his career and his father’s determination that he make good use of the three years spent preparing to be a pastor. Unlike his older brother, Ray, who prefers to remain stateside teaching and preaching, Jack can’t wait to get back into the cockpit. He was born to fly, even though he has an aversion to water and boats that he does not want to discuss which Ruth finds considerably suspicious in light of his tales of growing along the banks of and frolicking with his two brothers in the San Joaquin River.
Ruth struggles to resist her feelings for Jack, determined that they can only be friends. She is terrified of her growing attraction to Jack, and their budding relationship is threatened by her determination to be “virtuous,” even as she seeks the forgiveness from God that she never feels she has earned.
Pride is the character flaw with which Jack struggles. His battle to overcome his own self-confident nature, characterized by a decision-making process in which he deludes himself into believing that his motives are pure, is played out both with Ruth and in the skies over Germany where he makes critical tactical errors in judgment that impact the men he leads into battle and cost him the promotion he desperately wants. His own failures humble him, while simultaneously allowing him to really see Ruth for the first time — and appreciate the woman she has become in the years since she was a child growing up in Chicago in poverty and despair.
Meanwhile, May helps Ruth understand that forgiveness must come not just from God, but from oneself. It need only be asked for once from the Almighty, but the ability to forgive oneself for past mistakes and achieve a sense of peace and serenity about past choices can be a long, arduous process. Ruth wants the kind of peace that passes understanding, and to be able to truly enjoy not just her work, but her new-found friendships with May, Charlie, and Jack. With May’s unwavering support and encouragement, she embarks upon a voyage of introspection and self-examination that both empowers her to deal with Jack’s treatment of her, and enables her to feel compassion for him when he most needs acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness.
The focus of the story, however, remains Ruth and Jack’s relationship. Can she overcome her past and allow herself to truly love Jack? And can Jack accept Ruth as the woman she has become, no matter what secrets she harbors about her past and the things she did all those years ago in order to survive? The only way to find out is to read Sundin’s engrossing tale! I highly recommend it.
I read A Memory Between Us in conjunction with the 2010 Read ‘n’ Review and the Fall Into Reading 2010 challenges.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one copy of A Memory Between Us free of charge from the author as part of the Litfuse Publicity review and virtual book tour program. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own. This disclosure complies with 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”