Author: Sarah Sundin
Set against the backdrop of World War II in 1942, this wonderful story of friendship between two anonymous pen pals comes to life. This is the first book by Sarah Sundin that I have read, and I can tell you it won’t be the last! I am a new fan of her books and will be reading them all soon!
Tom MacGilliver always has a smile on his face. His mother so fearful of the anger his father had has taught Tom to smile and be pleasant no matter the circumstances. Tom will do anything not to imitate his father’s poor life example of drunkenness and murder. His father stole Tom’s childhood with the awful choices he made. Tom’s last name is infamous as his father’s crime, trial and execution became the fodder of the nation. Tom now is a grown man serving in the United States Army. He is also a civil engineer with a love of bridge building, bringing together things that are divided. This theme applies to more than just stone and mortar as his story progresses. He joins an anonymous pen pal program between Army nurses and servicemen due to his loneliness. In anonymity, he finds the freedom to express his true thoughts, feelings and aspirations. He thanks God for bringing his pen pal into his life.
Philomela Blake is a nurse serving in the Army. She believes God has given her the gift of mercy and it is her job to share that gift. Part of this mercy in Mellie’s view is singing to her patients, which they love. She grew up the daughter of an American father and a Filipino mother. Her father is a botanist, so he and Mellie spent her childhood in the jungles of exotic locations. Mellie never had any friends growing up. She was too American for Filipino children and later when she moved to the United States, she was too Filipino for the American children. Now, faced with the end of her dream of becoming an air evacuation nurse on an airplane, she must make friends or leave her dream behind. Her commander strongly suggests she also join her pet project, a pen pal program. Soon Mellie receives an answer to her letter. She is very surprised anyone bothered to write back. She was expecting to be rejected again.
The letters allow each person to be revealed to the other and vulnerable. Mellie needs encouragement and advice on friendship; Tom needs advice on leadership. Each supplies what the other one needs while giving God the credit. They fall in love with each other via their letters. After almost a year of writing, Tom decides to give up his anonymous status and wants Mellie to do the same. He wants a real relationship with her. Mellie is sure he will be disappointed in her once he sees her.
This is a fantastic book! This is not one of my favorite historical periods to read about, but the skill of the author kept my attention fully engaged. She made the book come alive for me. I learned a lot about women in the service of our country during WWII and the war in general. This is a wonderful, feel-good romance, friendship, mercy, faith and so much more. I can’t wait to read the second book, On Distant Shores to see how the story continues with Georgie’s character taking center stage. The story is so well-written and the characters will grab a piece of your heart. I highly recommend this book; it is definitely one for your “keeper” shelf.
My rating is 5 stars.