Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Review: Through Waters Deep

Through Waters Deep
By Sarah Sundin
Published: August 4, 2015

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them.

Sarah Sundin takes readers to the tense months before the US entered WWII. Readers will encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love, in this hopeful and romantic story.

My review:

Mary Stirling is quiet and efficient and she prefers to be in the background. Growing up she was always in the shadow of her best friend Quintessa but that didn't bother Mary at all. She'd learned the hard way that it is better not to shine and call attention to herself. On the day that a new destroyer is supposed to be launched, someone sabotages a bottle of champagne, filling it with gasoline. Thankfully no one is hurt but other suspicious incidents keep happening at the shipyard. Is it the work of someone who wants the U.S. to join the war or a Nazi sympathizer? Mary decides to keep notes of everything she sees going on in case it might help the FBI. 

Jim Avery is known for floating along through life unlike his older brothers who are also in the Navy. He likes to be helpful but prefers not to be the bold, take charge type especially after a tragedy in his youth.  Jim knew Mary back home in Vermillion, Ohio where he had unrequited feelings for her best friend Quintessa. They are thrown together again when they meet in Boston while he is stationed there and they become friends as they tour the city together and later as he helps her investigate the sabotage.

Jim and Mary are both held back in life by things that happened in their childhood. Mary believes that what happened to her was because of pride so she does her best to always be humble and stay out of the spotlight. It is hard for her to go to the authorities with any evidence she finds because she is afraid that would be seen as seeking praise or boasting. She also hesitates to take part in the church choir and even in her relationship with Jim. When she develops feelings for him she thinks he couldn't possibly be interested since she is nothing like Quintessa. Jim has a hard time with being decisive which leads to some misunderstandings and complications in his relationship with Mary, who he ends up falling for. He also struggles with being a leader on board the Atwood. Thankfully he has a great mentor in Lt. Commander Durant who helps him to understand what it means to be a good leader. 

At times I was frustrated with both Mary and Jim for not going after what they want in life but at the same time I could relate in a way especially with Jim. I tend to float through life myself and sometimes miss opportunities because of it. I think both characters grow over the course of the book and they are very likable in spite of their flaws and determined to help others and serve God.

The book takes place in 1940 and 1941 before the U.S. joins the War. The time period was interesting to me because of the various beliefs that Americans had about going to war. There was racism and isolationism as well as the belief that the United States should intervene before Hitler controlled everything. The turmoil is well portrayed by what goes on at the shipyard. The author also shows great command of Navy terminology and battle scenes. At times the details slowed the pacing of the story down for me but I think it added to the setting.  Attention to detail is one of Sundin's trademarks for her historical fiction. This is the first book in the Waves of Freedom series. I think fans of Christian historical fiction and WWII stories will enjoy Through Waters Deep. I also suggest her Wings of Glory series starting with A Distant Melody.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley

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