"In Speech class?"
She explained he needed to memorize a passage of something and then recite it to the class. Out of all possible books, he chose one of mine. What an honor!
That conversation prompts me to share a few words about Jim Yoder, the reluctant hero of my World War II story. Of course, hero is a word Jim would never use for himself. In fact, when he leaves his Indiana home and enlists in the Army Air Corps, that move is an act of rebellion to get away from his Christian upbringing. In the military, Jim becomes a waist gunner aboard a B-24 Liberator bomber. Through a series of events I won't describe here (I hate to spoil a story), Jim ends up exactly where he never expected to be--one the ground, alone, inside Nazi Germany. Can he make a run back to England before the Germans catch him? Is it time to end his run away from God?
Rather than ruin the story for those who haven't read it, let me focus on Jim as a person. He's nineteen. His dad is a mailman in the small town of Elkhart, Indiana. Jim has a knack for engine repair and hopes to be a mechanic if he can survive the war. Nothing about Jim himself elevates him above any of the other airmen stationed in Shipdham, England. He doesn't even aspire to lofty deeds. However, when circumstances conspire to throw this young Hoosier into situations beyond his control, he must deal with it. He'd rather be safely back home, but that's not an option. Step by reluctant step, Jim must walk a path he would rather not tread if he ever hopes to see his home or the beautiful girl Margo again. Fallible? Definitely? Unsure of himself? You bet he is. Perhaps those are the very qualities that make readers identify with Jim as he sets his sights on England and decides to attempt a run for home!
Your turn to reflect. When you enjoy a good book, is the fictional hero or heroine faultless? Invulnerable? Never tempted to do wrong? Always makes the smart decision? Probably not, because those qualities would remove the conflicts and tensions that we love to experience with that person, right?