Jim Yoder is a young waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator, doing his part for the war effort. Following a bomb run over northern Germany, he accidentally falls from his plane while trying to dislodge a bomb with a failed release. Finding himself deep behind enemy lines, he must attempt to navigate across Germany into occupied France to locate the French underground if he is to have any hope of returning home.
Let me begin by saying that this is a good book and an enjoyable read. I’m a WWII nut when it comes to history, so I was sure I would like it if the story was decent. And I did because it was. I’m not so much a stickler of methods and rules when it comes to reading for enjoyment. If someone can tell a good story and do a good job of keeping me in their world, I’ll enjoy it. Rick Barry does both. He is a good writer, a good story teller.
The only real weakness I found is the very beginning, the first few chapters leading up to the protagonist’s accident. The story moved along well enough but felt a bit clunky as though the writer had trouble describing the hero’s activities in an interesting way until the second act. There were also some repeated words in this area which caused some irritation as they knocked me from the reading bubble. In my opinion, these types of errors are easily correctable and should be caught during editing.
The novel is written in first person, which I don’t consider a weakness, just not a preference. I’m used to reading stories with different plot lines going at once. A first person story can’t do this since the protagonist must be in every scene. But once I got into the mindset, I was impressed by how easy it was to follow the storyline. And Barry does a great job of scene creation, so it was definitely not a boring ride.
Regardless of the slow start, the story moved well, and the action took off at an excellent pace beginning in act two. Barry appears to be somewhat of a WWII history buff himself, and this book is extremely well researched. Anyone who has any knowledge of that era will find it hard not to think this a true story. From the descriptions of the aircraft and squadrons, to the geography, to the characters’ actions and demeanors, the book places you there in that time and location. And I was delighted with the slight twist at the end.
Barry has his protagonist go through a conversion experience near the beginning of act two. Conversion scenes are sometimes overdone in Christian Fiction to the point of not fitting into the flow of the action, but Barry is able to work his in and make it a solid part of the story. From that point, he is able to weave the hero’s new point of view into his interaction with the characters he meets.
I was also impressed with the story itself; how following the adventures of this young man through enemy lines gave me a greater respect for what the people of that generation went through. Not only do we see what a young American had to deal with, we also see Germans who didn’t agree with Hitler as well as the French who helped many young flyboys get home. There was also a view of the darker side of the war; men who used the situations for their own profit who cared nothing for friends, neighbors, or country as long as they were paid.
If you like good stories with real characters and locations, and that are just fun reads, get Gunner’s Run. You’ll be glad you did.
The views expressed in this review are mine alone.