Lt. Mellie Blake is training to be a flight nurse. That’s the only thing she has in common with the other young women in the program. Mellie doesn’t make friends easily. She’s a loner and the harder she tries to fit in with the nurses, the more she seems to alienate them.
Lt. Tom MacGilliver has no trouble making friends, but no one truly knows him — the man on the inside. Attempting to flee his past, he has learned to paste a smile on his face and always say the right thing. Tom and Mellie’s paths cross through an anonymous letter exchange meant to build the morale of the soldiers serving overseas during World War II.
This faceless, nameless interaction provides them with an escape, a chance to be their true selves without the fear of rejection. Through the letters, Tom teaches Mellie how to make friends and she shows him the importance of meaningful relationships that reach deeper than the surface. When they are both deployed to Algeria, meeting face-to-face suddenly becomes a possibility. However, stripping away anonymity presents risks. Some of the secrets they shared hold the power to destroy the relationship.
Sarah Sundin’s With Every Letter is one of those treasures a reader always dreams of discovering when delving into a book. The author extracts the reader from the present and transports him/her into another world. Sundin immersed me so deeply into the story that finishing the book jolted me back to reality. I wanted nothing more than to return with Tom, Mellie, and the rest of the characters that became my close friends throughout the adventure.
Because Mellie’s a nurse and Tom’s an officer during a time of war, they spent most of the book apart and yet that didn’t make the over four-hundred page story drag. To my dismay, the end of With Every Letter arrived much too quickly. Through the letters and their few encounters, the reader sees a beautiful relationship blossom. Their story holds more romance than many books where the main characters spend almost the entire time together.
Everyone understands the fear of rejection and letting others see one’s true self, making Tom and Mellie very easy to relate with. At times, I could identify with them so much it was scary. I had to wonder if the author could secretly read my mind. It is Sundin’s profound understanding of human nature — that struggle between our desire for friendship and acceptance, and our need to protect ourselves from hurt — that propels this novel far beyond good fiction and into a realm that makes it shine.
With Every Letter has made it onto my favorites list and I’ll re-read it multiple times. If all of Sundin’s novels are like this one, I have a lot of catching up to do! Romance and historical fiction fans won’t want to miss the first installment in the Wings of the Nightingale series.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Thank you!
**Originally posted on Radiant Lit.