Sarah Sundin does it again enthralling us in the early days of WWII in America through her latest historical fiction Through Waters Deep. While true to the historical period of WWII-era, the book is also part romance and part mystery.
Sarah’s composition typically includes two main characters with deep backstories who intersect. The intersection typically leads to romance and in this case, it also leads to some mystery. In Through Waters Deep we meet Mary Atwood, a wall flower not quite ready to step into the spotlight and Jim Avery, a young naval officer ready to prove himself.
Sundin’s character development skills lead the reader into a relationship with each character. The characters are multi-dimensional and I also appreciate how while Mary is sensitive and sweet, she is also a trailblazer who steps outside the typical expectations of the women of her time. Alternating chapters give us a peek into to each character’s perspective, sharing their individual stories.
The setting is Boston just before the start of WWII at a Naval shipyard where Mary works as a secretary, and Jim Avery is stationed before he ships off to sea and into war. Mary and Jim knew each other in high school and meet again years later in this new setting. They were barely friends back home but now develop a friendship that helps them to see each other a bit differently than before.
Meanwhile, mischief is happening at the shipyard where several instances of sabotage have led to an FBI investigation in which Mary becomes immersed. As Mary and Jim’s friendship heats up, second guessing, assumptions and chance circumstance seems to prevent them from letting their true feelings known. Each character faces their own fears and must learn to set their own sails. There is plenty of tension and conflict to keep readers invested in the story to the end.
While the story is fiction, Sundin includes enough history from WWII era to make it seem real. She includes real ship names, General names and battle scenes with German U-boats and torpedoes.
The overall message is that God gave each of us talents and when we use them to His glory, we will truly find fulfillment.