When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)
When the first page of a book contains a suspicious female heroine who mutters the self-recriminating phrase “Too much Nancy Drew in junior high”, I know it’s going to be right up my alley!
Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges—and dangers—await them.
Sarah Sundin takes readers to the tense months before the US entered WWII. Readers will encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love, in this hopeful and romantic story.
So many elements make this book a winner for me! The friends-who-fall-for-each-other trope, the Nancy Drew & Agatha Christie references, the unique perspective on the time period, the theme of not letting your fears stop you from being bold. And then there’s Sarah Sundin’s easy, natural writing style that engages you immediately and holds you captive until the very end.
Jim and Mary, childhood friends reunited as adults at the Boston Navy Yard, both struggle with not wanting to make waves or draw attention. Both are scarred from past experiences and prefer to fade into the background. One of the great lessons of Through Waters Deep is that life passes you by when you merely float through it, and I delighted in watching their journeys toward greater courage.
Most WW2 books take place once America is already engaged officially in the conflict, but Through Waters Deep uniquely spotlights the tumultuous period leading up to America’s entry. Tempers and tensions and conspiracy theories ran high; intrigue lurked around every corner, and trust among colleagues sank lower with every report of American lives lost in the crossfires. What struck me about the tension I read in Through Waters Deep was how there really is nothing new under the sun. Oh, maybe the conflict between humans wears a different label now (and maybe it doesn’t) but some of the scenes and scenarios could have come right out of the latest Breaking News headlines instead of from the newspapers of the 1940s. Sarah Sundin does a remarkable job of bringing this history to life in a vivid portrait of the lives affected when we let prejudice and/or bitterness ensnare our hearts.
Mary was my favorite character in the book – perhaps because like her I often have let fear dictate my actions… or perhaps because I have a bit of Nancy Drew in me too. I loved how she embraced the opportunity to be an amateur sleuth, even when Agent Sheffield rather condescendingly brushed off her attempts by asking her how many Nancy Drew books she’d read. I have to say, I bristled with a bit of righteous indignation in a show of sisterhood for my girl Mary during that scene!
I liked seeing Jim as a Navy man, watching him grow as an officer and as a friend. I did want to shake some sense into him a few times, but he redeemed himself nicely so I can’t stay too aggravated at him 🙂
Bottom Line: A fascinating look at the events leading up to World War 2, Through Waters Deep showcases the very best aspects of bold courage, breath-stealing romance, intriguing mystery and sweet friendship. For every woman who still dreams occasionally of being Nancy Drew, this is the book you need to read next!
I give Through Waters Deep 4 out of 5 stars!
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(I received a copy of Through Waters Deep from the publisher via Litfuse in exchange for only my honest review.)
Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, In Perfect Time, and the Wings of Glory series. In 2014, On Distant Shores was a finalist for the Golden Scroll Awards from both AWSA and the Christian Authors Network. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.