Saturday, May 22, 2010
When I began the book, I had no idea what a U-boat looked like, and neither did I realize how close the German U-boats came to our shores. The Heart Mender is a story of war at its ugliest and hatred for fellow human beings. It is also a love story, a lesson about forgiveness and the meaningful relationships of people in a small town. Usually, we hear about England in WWII and Germany. Not often do we hear about what was happening on our American shores.
The real people who lived through these experiences are remarkable. These people are a witness that ordinary people can do what is extraordinary during incredibly horrific times. I met Helen. A woman who is angry with all her friends who seem to have gotten the chance to live the American Dream which is true happiness while she lives with empty memories. Her neighbor tunes in to her needy anger and says, "Holding on to all that anger...it's like taking poison and waiting for everyone else to die." Helen does not mince words. She has an answer for her friend, Margaret. "So why should I give up my anger?" she thought. "Then I am left with nothing but pain."
Helen's words gave me chills. I discovered so much about the art of forgiving. Danny, the son of Billy and Margaret, just added more whipping to the pie. Danny has Downs Syndrome. Believe it or not, this makes him an incredible thinker. Danny added miles to what I thought forgiveness meant.
This is not a syrupy Christian book about forgiveness and helping your neighbor. It is an adventure story about how lives can change, become more resourceful during a time of crisis. This book took me beyond, over and around what happened to people during WWII. Now I really know why these unknown heroes should remain remembered from generation to generation.