Book Review: The Land Beneath Us

26 Mar

In 1943, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the US Army Rangers at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, determined to do his best in the upcoming Allied invasion of France. With his future stolen by his brothers’ betrayal, Clay has only one thing to live for — fulfilling the recurring dream of his death.

Leah Jones works as a librarian at Camp Forrest, longing to rise above her orphanage upbringing and belong to the community, even as she uses her spare time to search for her real family — the baby sisters she was separated from so long ago.

After Clay saves Leah’s life from a brutal attack, he saves her virtue with a marriage of convenience. When he ships out to train in England for D-day, their letters bind them together over the distance. But can a love strong enough to overcome death grow between them before Clay’s recurring dream comes true

Sarah Sundin is the CBA-bestselling author of The Land Beneath Us (February 2020), The Sky Above Us (2019) and The Sea Before Us (2018), and the Waves of Freedom series, the Wings of the Nightingale series, and the Wings of Glory series, all from Revell. In addition, she has a novella in Where Treetops Glisten (WaterBrook).

Her novels have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. In 2019, The Sea Before Us received the Reader’s Choice Award from Faith, Hope and Love. Both When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” Through Waters Deep was a 2016 Carol Award Finalist and won the 2016 INSPY Award, and her novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in Where Treetops Glisten was a finalist for the 2015 Carol Award. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

A mother of three, Sarah lives in northern California and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. She enjoys speaking to community, church, and writers’ groups, and has been well received.

She serves as Programming Director for the West Coast Christian Writers Conference, and she belongs to American Christian Fiction Writers and Christian Authors Network.


My Impressions:

The Land Beneath Us is the concluding novel in Sarah Sundin’s Sunrise at Normandy series. The books feature the three Paxton brothers — men impacted by the actions of a single night back at their home in Texas. Lots of mistakes, poor decisions, and, yes, sins took place on that tragic day, and all three men have to deal with the repercussions. In The Land Beneath Us, youngest brother Clay takes center stage. He trains to be a Ranger to fulfill what he believes to be his destiny. On his way he meets a remarkable young woman whose own life has been marked by tragedy and violence. Her example of forgiveness impacts Clay, changing how he sees his life, his brothers, and God. An excellent finale to this series, this book gets a highly recommended rating from me.

There are so many things to love about The Land Beneath Us. I love how Sundin brings the day-to-day activities of WWII-era America to life. Small details such as fashion, baby care, scrap drives show just how life has changed in the modern world. Yet there is much to be learned — unity of purpose and watching out for our neighbors. There were definitely some dark aspects  — prejudices of many kinds — that shine a light on the shortcomings of modern day America as well. Sundin’s research is remarkable. I really felt I was in those Ranger training sessions and on the streets of small town Tennessee. And Clay’s experiences on D Day spotlight the courage and determination of our Greatest Generation. Spiritual themes abound and are naturally woven into the narrative. Forgiveness, feelings of unworthiness, and clinging to what others have done to us are just a few. The two main characters’ developing relationship was special as well. Through letters they go from a marriage of convenience to a deep love. The book includes an epilogue wrapping up all of the books — I loved that too!

For fans of historical fiction set during WWII, this series cannot be beat! If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, you need to. Start at book 1 and get ready for a great reading experience.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)



4 Responses to “Book Review: The Land Beneath Us”

  1. joynealkidney March 26, 2020 at 9:49 am #

    I’ve enjoyed all of Sarah Sundin’s WWII stories!

    • rbclibrary March 28, 2020 at 6:46 am #

      Me too!

  2. Sarah Sundin March 26, 2020 at 10:30 am #

    Thank you for the lovely review, Beckie! I’m so glad you enjoyed Clay & Leah’s story, and I’m looking forward to the book club discussion today!

    • rbclibrary March 28, 2020 at 6:46 am #

      We all loved it. Seems to be our favorite of the series.

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