Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and over the years I’ve read many books set during WWII. As with any subject, having a familiarity with this period leads to recognizing plots and events and being able to predict what will follow. Generally speaking, stories don’t catch me off guard. However, with “The Land Beneath Us,” Sarah Sundin manages to do just that, so that I felt as if I were reading a suspenseful thriller and could not turn the pages quickly enough. I have not read the previous books in this series, but that did not at all impede my enjoyment of this one.
With “The Land Beneath Us”, Sarah Sundin delivers a breathtaking novel that is both beautiful and tragic. She deals with disquieting issues not often found in Christian historical fiction, yet she does so with grace. While the events themselves are disturbing, they are not described in detail and do not leave readers feeling sullied. Instead, through the faith of her characters and the ways in which the Lord works in their lives, these ordeals become inspiring testimonies. Leah Jones, in particular, spoke to my heart and is now among my list of favorite heroines. Her love of books and libraries resonated with me, and I felt a kinship with her because I am petite also. Despite her small stature, she manages to make a powerful impact; as Clay Paxton remarks, “For such a young and tiny thing, she had strength at her core.” Despite growing up as an orphan and dealing with abandonment her entire life, her heart has not become hardened and she has an effusive zest for life and remarkable resilience. Her own statement reveals her disposition: “There are even more blessings I can’t yet see. But I will. I only have to watch.” She is not, however, perfect, and I am thankful that Sundin shows how Leah does make mistakes like the rest of us but comes through them because she has the Holy Spirit within her to guide her.
Faith, hope, and love do indeed shine through in this novel. There are allusions to the Biblical stories of Leah and the prodigal son, and forgiveness is one of the main themes. Sundin expresses so well the corroding effect that unforgiveness has on our lives, and she also addresses the issue of trust. Her characters are wonderful witnesses and complements to one another, teaching by example in a beautiful demonstration of the body of Christ. The promise of Jesus echoes throughout “The Land Beneath Us”, assuring us that “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.