When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin – Mixed Feelings

I love reading Sarah Sundin’s historical fiction novels and that’s why I was excited to read her newest book When Twilight Breaks.  This story starts before the beginning of World War II.  Unlike her earlier WWII novels, this story is not focused on characters in the military. 

Evelyn Brand is an American correspondent for American News Service based in Munich, Germany in 1938.  She has a few strikes against her, she’s a woman, young, and will do whatever it takes to get a story.  Evelyn wants to expose the truth of what’s she’s seeing no matter whose toes she’s stepping on.  Denied the opportunity to go where the action is at, Evelyn was sent to do a softball story about American students and their experiences at the University of Munich.  It’s there that Evelyn meets Peter Lang who is working on his Ph.D. in German.  Evelyn and Peter couldn’t be much different.  He appreciates what he sees in Germany, the changes that have happened since 1932 with prosperity, no unemployment, seemingly secure and very orderly.  Peter takes a fancy to Evelyn, though it’s not mutual, he is not easily deterred.

I struggled a bit with this book.  Evelyn’s character was rather off-putting.  She came across as judgmental and a know-it-all.  I felt like I was reading a story with a modern-day woman being put in the middle of a story in the 1930’s.  Something that’s common in today’s movies and TV shows is to portray men as being inferior to women.  I almost felt like that was what I was seeing and it surprised me in a book from an author who is Christian.  Evelyn was shown to have the moral high ground in recognizing the wrong road Germany was headed down.  Peter was depicted as someone who was somewhat blind to the changing atmosphere in Germany. 

My favorite character was Peter.  Though he was slow to start seeing the growing threat to Jewish people in Germany, once he recognized it, he didn’t hesitate to try to help people who were being victimized.  He was kind, caring, patient, and ready to put his life on the line and risk everything he had worked for to help a friend in need.

I did like the secondary characters, Evelyn’s friend Elizabeth White, Herr Gold and Peter’s friends the Schreiber family, and Paul and Simone Aubrey.  There were some heartwarming and good surprises about friends as well as vile words and behavior from so-called friends. 

Regarding the Christian faith, there wasn’t a lot about faith included in When Twilight Breaks.  It was “Christian lite” on the substance of faith and the Gospel was not shared.  I think the book would have been richer if that element of the story had been developed. 

The views of men and women in this book seem to reflect a more secular view from today’s culture.  I was pleasantly surprised by the change in Evelyn.  At first, she seemed selfish and ready to put people at risk for her cause, but later she learned the importance of being interdependent and putting others first. 

It was somewhat eerie reading about the growing intolerance for people who were deemed inferior since we are beginning to see that in our own Country.  A good warning to not go down that path. 

I had mixed feelings about this book.  I liked the character Peter and grew to appreciate Evelyn’s passion to get the truth out about what was happening in Germany.  It made me think about what it must have been like for the people living in Germany, both the Jewish people who were being persecuted and the German citizens who saw what was going on.  I found it both sobering and terrifying. 

I wasn’t keen on the feminist aspects of this book, especially in light of it being written by a Christian author and published by a company that publishes Christian books and authors. 

Would I recommend When Twilight Breaks?  I like Sarah Sundin’s writing, she’s a good storyteller.  However, I think this book was not as good as some of her other books because of what felt like a feminist agenda as opposed to telling a story.  It was informative, disturbing, and interesting to see the progression of Germany going down the wrong road. 

I would like to thank Revell Publishing Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin – Memorable…A Real Gem!

When I find an author whose books I like, I want to read all of them.  That’s why I was excited to find author Sarah Sundin’s newest book The Sky Above Us, which is the second book in her Sunrise at Normandy Series.

The story of the Paxton family continues in The Sky Above Us as we are introduced to the middle brother, Lt. Alder Paxton.  He is making his way to England where he will be stationed with American Air Force in 1943, as they join the battle to prepare for D-Day.  Though he is trying to leave his past behind him, it has a way of catching up.  What are the chances that 5,000 miles from home Alder will see his estranged brothers Wyatt and Clay?  Onboard ship, Alder will meet the lovely Violet Lindstrom who is with the American Red Cross.  She has her sights set on serving as a missionary one day, in a faraway land.  Little did she know that the Lord would open her eyes to a different mission field that would resonate with her heart’s longing and desires.

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this book.  Not only did I like the setting, WWII in England as D-Day approached, but also the characters and how they fit into a pivotal time in our history.  Sarah must have done a lot of research to make the dogfights and battles seem so realistic and easy to visualize.  In reading The Sky Above Us, I got a taste of what the people who lived through that era may have experienced.

Prior to reading this book, I didn’t know much about the history of the American Red Cross and their roll in helping servicemen as they served abroad.  Those women who served were hardworking and brave and they too put their lives on the line.

As much as I was intrigued and fascinated with the setting and characters, I loved and learned from some of the themes in the book.  Forgiveness was looked at from many different angles.  Compassion, mercy, humility, obedience, friendship, self-righteousness, repentance and God’s calling were some of the other themes.

I very much liked Adler and Violet, but my favorite character was Nick Westin.  He was a wonderful friend, mentor, brother in Christ, father and husband.  I’d love to see a book about this character.  He was memorable and very dear.

Not only did I love The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin, but I learned from it.  It gave me a deeper appreciation for the greatest generation and what they did to save our Country and the Western world from Nazism.  This is a book I will read again and would definitely give it as a gift.  I took my time reading this book and I didn’t want it to end.  It was so enjoyable to read it at the end of each day.  Though it’s part of a series, it works well as a stand-alone book.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell Publishing Group for the opportunity to read The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin – A Real Treasure – Fascinating Historical Fiction

I absolutely love finding a good book and I found a real treasure in The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin.  Not only did I find a really good book, but an author whose novels I want to read.

I selected The Sea Before Us based on the subject matter, World War II and D-Day.  My parents and grandfather were in the military and fought in World War II.  They were part of the greatest generation who fought with great courage to defeat Hitler.

The Sea Before Us starts out in 1941 with a young man in Texas, Wyatt Paxton, who’s in middle of circumstances that will change the trajectory of not only own his life, but his family’s as well.  Fast forward three years to London, England where readers are introduced to Dorothy Fairfax a Second Officer with the Women’s Royal Naval Service.  Wyatt and Dorothy are just two of the British and Allied forces who are working diligently to prepare maps and intelligence for the troops and their upcoming invasion of France to beat back and crush Hitler, the German forces and all those who’ve perpetrated such great evil.

The setting of the novel during World War II and the preparation for the upcoming Allied invasion was fascinating.  The author’s research and attention to detail comes through.  The characters were well written and I appreciated how their faith and personal growth was developed during the course of the story.

I highly recommend The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin, it’s an interesting book with likeable realistic characters you will want to get to know.  This author knows how to write historical fiction that will grab you and keep your attention.  I look forward to reading Sarah’s earlier work and future novels.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell Publishing Group for the opportunity to read The Sea Before Us in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.