Helen and Ray stand out among the characters for both their complexity and strength of spirit. They go through some rough experiences! Sundin paints realistic pictures of people living under the pressure of others' expectations and their own hidden guilt. She also finds a way to shine the light of redemption on potentially dark situations. You'll cheer for Helen to overcome her past, and for Ray to fight for his heart's desire. This, and the other Wings of Glory books (you'll find my earlier review of A Distant Melody here), are entertaining and challenging reads.
Let's chat with the author a bit! In the following Q&A, Sundin reveals her perspective on the book.
Q. What is the story behind Blue Skies Tomorrow?
A. Blue Skies Tomorrow arose from my need for happy endings. In my first novel, A Distant Melody, one of the side characters, Helen Carlisle, is widowed at only twenty-one, and the hero’s oldest brother, Ray Novak, is dumped by his fiancée. I mentally introduced them to each other, the mutual attraction was strong, and I just had to write their story. This novel also allows me to complete the story of the US Eighth Air Force victory in Europe.
Q.What draws you to write about the World War II era?
A. Besides the cute clothes and men in uniform? First of all, there are so many dramatic stories and settings—a novelist’s dream. This was a time when ordinary men had to do extraordinary things, and when women first explored non-traditional roles—while remaining ladies. Plus, I’ve always been fond of that generation, my grandparents’ generation. As a pharmacy resident at a VA hospital, I had the honor of caring for many of these men. As a rule, they were cheerful, kind, and chivalrous, with the solid strength of someone who has been tested—and passed. What more could you want in a hero?
Q.What was the most interesting research you had to do for this novel/series?
A. I had already done the background research on B-17s and the US Eighth Air Force for the first two books in the series, but for Blue Skies Tomorrow, I also researched the Port Chicago Explosion. In the largest US Home Front disaster in the war, 320 sailors were killed, most of whom were black. I thought I understood the explosion and the mutiny trial that followed (it happened in my home county), but my research changed my mind. I knew there was a great deal of racism and discrimination at the time, but the details of this disaster really brought it home to me.
Q.Which of your characters particularly resonates with you and why?
A. Both Ray and Helen resonated with me, but perhaps Ray more so. He takes on a role he feels ill-equipped for, and he has to find the courage to forge forward and to turn to God to find the purpose in his adventure. I pushed Ray harder than I did any of the Novak brothers, at a time in my life the Lord was really pushing me. We both had to find courage in the Lord.