A Walk To Remember – by Nicholas Sparks (1999)

A Walk To Remember

The story is told by Landon Carter when he is 57 years old, recalling a time forty years earlier. It was the 1950s in the small town of Beaufort, North Carolina. Landon and his buddies would sneak out at night to get into mischief, and often pull pranks on folks around town. Although it was a very religious community, the local minister, Hegbert Sullivan, and his daughter Jamie were frequently subjects of their off-color jokes. Jamie dressed modestly, wore a plain brown sweater, always carried her Bible, and was unfailingly kind.

Landon found himself thrown together with Jamie, first in desperation as a date for the school dance, and later as a fellow actor in the church’s annual Christmas play. For the first time, he saw how beautiful Jamie was, both inside and out. They began doing things together, like visiting kids at the local orphanage, and raising money for them. Landon’s old friends ridiculed him for hanging around Jamie, but after a while that really didn’t matter. About the time Landon realized that he had fallen in love with Jamie, she told him that she was dying.

The things that kept this book from being a sappy, shallow love story are: 1 – it was based on the author’s own sister, who was dying as he wrote the story; and 2 – it portrayed a kind of love based on devotion to God and others. As Landon and Jamie looked outward and tried to meet the needs of people around them, they formed a close bond to each other. While the book was a tear-jerker, it also showed how anyone, no matter how young or old, can make the world a better place just by loving others.

The book was made into a movie in 2002. While the book was set in the 1950s, the producers of the movie changed it to the late 1990s. They felt young people would be more drawn to a current-day story instead of one from the mid-century. Whether you read the book or watch the movie, you are sure to be moved by this story of deep love.

Hornet Flight – by Ken Follett (2002)

hornet flight

The country of Denmark is quite small – only 43,094 square kilometers (16,638 square miles) – and that counts the main peninsula, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Norway and Sweden lie to the north, and Germany to the south. During World War II, the tiny country of Denmark was easily overrun by the Nazi army. Its citizen were limited in size and number, but great in spirit and courage. It is this setting that the author chose for his book.

Although “The Hornet Flight” is a work of fiction, it is based on actual events during World War II. The Germans did indeed have advanced radar devices along the North Sea that could detect the Allied airplanes, which resulted in a horrendous amount of them being shot down. And yes, there were two Danish citizens that found an old plane in storage, and used it to transport important information to the Allies. The strict Protestant flavor of the community is also true to life. But the characters in the book are fictional.

The story mainly centers around Harald Olufsen, his desire to fly, and the discovery of an old forgotten airplane in a barn. I appreciated the way that the author also pulled women into the story (Karen and Hermia), and showed them as important parts of the Danish Resistance. While the end of the story was predictable because we know so much about World War II, it was a historical novel worth reading.

Before We Were Yours – by Lisa Wingate (2017)

Before We Were Yours

Adoption is a beautiful thing – a coming together of children who need a home and someone to love them, and adults who are ready to raise, protect and love them as their own flesh and blood. There are many excellent adoption agencies that put their heart into building families.

But back in the 1920’s, there actually was a woman named Georgia Tann who started her own black market adoption agency. She kept a sharp eye out for children that looked desirable – specifically blonde-haired, blue-eyed ones, and whose parents were poor and uneducated. The children were taken by what was supposed to be protective services, and temporarily kept in a large house where they were meagerly fed, abused and in some cases molested. Then they were sold off to wealthy clients with claims that the birth parents were dead, or had abandoned the children. Incredibly, this racket went on until 1950 before it was legally stopped.

This book is a work of fiction, but is based on events that actually happened to children at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. The child-trafficking organization left a trail of broken hearts and lives behind for decades, even after it was closed. It is almost unbelievable that such a thing could happen here in our country – but it did. It’s up to everyone to listen when children tell us things we don’t want to believe, and to confront evil when it rears its ugly head.