By Bethany Melton
Are you a World War II fanatic like me? If tales of war heroes and rugged survival immediately draw your imagination into the excitement of historical drama, then I have a must-read for you.
Nineteen-year-old Jim Yoder doesn’t consider himself a hero. He would be the first to admit his fear and doubt in the face of the impending perils of World War II. Jim’s unlikely and painful journey toward discovering faith in someone far more powerful than the Axis powers is only one aspect of the exhilarating novel, Gunner’s Run.
Shortly after graduating high school and meeting his sweetheart, Margo, Jim is enlisted as a USAAF gunner with the 44th bombardment group in the war that rages across the ocean. Though his religious father opposes Christian involvement in war, Jim is eager to join the fight for freedom as an Ally. As each air raid mission intensifies, however, Jim longs for home and for the war to end soon. But that doesn’t happen. Instead, Jim finds himself fleeing as a downed escapee in enemy territory. This ordeal changes the young atheist’s life forever. Will he ever see his home or family again?
The author, Rick Barry, engages readers in the life of Jim Yoder by using first-person point of view. The use of this POV style not only creates a realistic character, but it also helps to form a bond between Jim and readers that makes us feel truly a part of the unfolding events. Through this action-packed novel, Barry successfully portrays the emotional and spiritual battles, heart-stopping fear, and dangerous life of an American Ally during World War II.
Although Jim Yoder’s tale is fictional, its message is very real. All of us fight spiritual and physical battles, yet no matter the vastness of our disbelief in an Almighty God, He is ever existent and has a perfect plan. Rick Barry has used the captivating story of one fictitious man to convey an impactful lesson to a host of diverse readers: no matter the battle, we can trust our God.
Historical fiction is tricky. The writer must dictate every detail of a recorded epoch as accurately as possible while formulating a tale that arrests readers, whether they are passionate historians or not. Gunner’s Run achieves that balance between facts and heart-racing adventure. Every detail and action in the novel reflects true events while being ardently moving. I walked away more thoroughly educated in the history of the second World War than I would have been if I had read the finest textbook on the subject.
Gunner’s Run sits on my shelf as one of a few highly favored books. I strongly recommend reading this sensational novel, whether you are young or old, historically intrigued or not. Prepare to encounter an influx of World War II aircraft and geographic knowledge, while simultaneously fighting a thrilling battle alongside Jim Yoder, hoping that together, and with the strength of the Almighty, you will survive this treacherous journey.
Bethany Melton is a 16-year-old homeschool student, writer, aspiring journalist, music lover, artist, sports fan, daughter of two, sister to five, and aunt to one (but soon to be two!). When she isn’t working on her sophomore-level schoolwork, Bethany enjoys journaling, sketching, messing around with her sewing machine, shooting hoops with her siblings, playing roller hockey with friends, and hunting for deals at the nearest resale shops. Bethany is a daughter of the Heavenly King and desires to use her gifts for His glory.