My parents met shortly after the end of World War II. My dad had several more months in the Coast Guard before he was to be discharged. While Daddy was deployed, he and Mama wrote letters to each other frequently. Mama was still in college, finishing her degree, and getting ready to teach. When Daddy was discharged, he came home to gather what money he could to buy Mama an engagement ring. If Mama refused his proposal, Daddy was going to go to South Carolina to take a job on the railroad. He had had a small herd of cattle he left in the care of his parents when he went into the service. He had a cow, a heifer, and a yearling calf remaining in his "herd." He sold them all and took the money to Mr Finger's jewelry store to buy the best ring he could. He got the clearest, prettiest 1/4 carat diamond his money could buy. His money could have gotten a bigger diamond, but he went for quality over quantity. Mama was his one and only.
When I read Sarah Sundin's new World War II era book, I could totally relate to Melly and Tom. I understood Melly's desire to fit in with the other nurses, her desire to do the best job she absolutely could, and her willingness to enter into an anonymous correspondence.
With Every Letter rises to and surpasses Sarah's writing quality. I've read Sarah's books and have enjoyed, nay, loved every single one. She writes of an era that intrigues me, interests me, and speaks to me of my own history because of my father's service. But I must say I have never been so drawn into a book. Melly grew up feeling out of sync with her world, and had a hard time fitting in. Tom was the same way, but for different reasons. Their anonymous pen-pal relationship made it possible to reveal their true selves to each other, encourage each other, and fall in love. Melly's job as a flight nurse on medical evacuation flights hinged on her ability to fit in with the rest of the nurses--Tom was able to advise her on building friendships. Tom's job as an engineer building airstrips for the moving bases depended on his ability to motivate his men to do the work and not just be one of the guys--Melly encouraged him to find the leadership she felt he had within him.
Sarah consistently makes her characters real, with real feelings and real emotions. They are incredibly relatable and I found myself rejoicing with the triumphs, tearing up at the tests and trials, and anxiously watching these characters grow. Sarah, kudos--you've done it again. Five Stars, a Medal of Commendation, and WOW!