It appears Marty Steere has another Award Winning Book in his second novel, "Defiant Heart," following "Sea of Crises," with a very different story.
I was drawn to the book by the small town, mid-western setting with a story of young love between Jon and Mary (a few years before my own, often similar, experiences).
From the publicity info:
"Set against the backdrop of small town America on the eve of World War II, Defiant Heart features two extraordinary characters and one unforgettable love story.
In the spring of 1941, young Jon Meyer's family dies in a tragic accident, and he is sent to live in a small Indiana town. He arrives to find himself unwanted and shunned.
Mary Dahlgren is the daughter of the town's mayor. A pretty girl, she could have the pick of the boys in town, including Vernon King, the star of the vaunted high school basketball team. To the chagrin of her friends, though, Mary has always been more interested in books than boys. That is, until she meets Jon.
But Jon and Mary are kept apart by an insidious campaign orchestrated by Mary's father, who perceives their relationship a threat to his political aspirations, and Vernon, to whom Jon is a rival for Mary's affections. For months Jon is subjected to a painful ostracism. Then, just when the young man's earnestness and perseverance begin to win over many of the townsfolk and it appears that love may conquer all, tragedy strikes.
As the country is caught up in war, so too are the young lovers swept up in events beyond their control, leaving both fighting for their very lives. If, against the odds, they are to be together, each will need to find the strength, the courage and the resourcefulness that beat only in a defiant heart."
My Comments: As I got into the story, I was drawn in even more by the well-drawn characters - many reminded me of our classmates in a similar small-town school. The dominant place of the small town athletes rang very true with me. I wanted to be on the inside, but always remained an "outsider" even when the coach let me be on the team. Bullying, as we call it today, was very well portrayed - almost too well portrayed, a couple of times. I became very uncomfortable, a number of times. I think we call that "good writing!"
The Mary character was so reminiscent, in many ways, of the young lady I courted (now my wife of nearly 54 years!) - though any struggles we had were nothing compared to what Jon and Mary went through.
My final comment, so as not to slip into Spoiler Areas, relates to the Ben Wheeler character. I grew up on an Iowa farm, across the road from my Flying Farmer uncle/neighbor. The flying stories brought back some fantastic memories. Thanks, Marty!
I assume it is obvious that I highly recommend "Defiant Heart" to your reading pleasure! Once I got well into the story, I didn't want to put it down until the very end... and not even then... I wanted more. ;-)
The son of a career air force officer, Marty Steere grew up on or near military installations across the country and overseas before settling in Southern California, where, when he's not writing, he practices law. His debut novel, Sea of Crises, was named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012.
Dr. Bill ;-)