Ray and Betty Whipps both served in Europe during WWII: Ray as an infantryman under General Patton in the trenches of Normandy, Paris, and Belgium, and Betty as a field nurse in Cherbourg, France. The two met when Betty tended to Ray after he was injured in a mortar blast. Both strong Christians, the two bonded over their shared faith, and as Betty nursed Ray back to health, they fell in love and vowed to marry after the war. However, soon after Ray returned to his unit, he was captured by German forces and held captive in Stalag VII, Germany’s largest prisoner of war camp. It was there that Ray’s faith was put to the ultimate test as he endured the most horrific weeks of his life—weeks marked by brutality, malnutrition, back-breaking labor, and near-constant death. The only thing that kept him alive was the dream of someday reuniting with Betty.
Told in first person from Ray’s perspective, with personal wartime letters from Betty interspersed throughout, ’Til We Meet Again is a sweeping love story set amid the backdrop of WWII. The perfect combination of “in the trenches” battlefield accounts and classic 1940s romance, this memoir reads almost like a novel. It is an epic story of faith, hope, and love, and a nostalgic look back at one of the most memorable periods in American history.
I am very proud to be able to review this book because I come from a heritage of veterans. My two great-grandfathers fought in WWII, one of my grandfathers served in the military during peace time and the other fought in the Vietnam War. I am honored to be able to live in a free country because my forefathers fought for the freedom I now have and getting to hear stories from them about their time in service is something I thoroughly enjoy. 'Till We Meet Again is no exception.
Even though this is a non-fiction book, it reads like a fictional story; which is one of the aspects of this book that I loved. There are very few non-fiction books I like so I enjoyed the fact that I felt like I was reading an actually story and not a history book full of facts. There were even times I forgot that what I was reading really did happen because of the "story like aspect" of the book. Having the letters inserted at the end of the chapters helped "bring me back to reality" and give a more personal feel to the story.
This book did, in my opinion, a good job at taking the violent aspect of war and making it palatable. It didn't hid from the blood of war making this story into a "fairytale", but it did put it into a way that was easy for the reader to digest.
While the book itself is a great WWII drama I felt that it was marketed wrong. 'Till We Meet Again is the story about Ray and Betty's romance but I felt more so that it was about Ray's personal wartime story. The book starts out when Ray is just a little boy in Ohio and takes you through his teenage years, the day he is drafted, and on through his time spent in training and service. He does not meet his future bride until over half way into the book. After that the rest of the story seems to but put into high gear as it hurries to get to the end. The description on the back of the book (see above) describes the time Ray spends in Stalag VII-A (Germany's largest POW camp) as the most important and climaxing part of the story. However, this is not the case and the spiritual journey of Ray was down played here. The time Ray spends in captivity is greatly rushed and without much detail. While marketed that this time was Ray's most trying test of faith, we barely get anything out of the author(s) as to what exactly was going on inside his head and heart other than he was just "tired and defeated". Throughout the entire book the author(s) mention and show how Ray's strong faith in GOD was the main thing pulling him through, but we don't get much back ground on how he got to this point. In the beginning the author(s) describe a point where Ray began to struggle with his faith but the very next thing that happens is Ray is drafted and suddenly all of his doubts seem to be forgotten as he clings to the hope he has in Messiah. While the authors did a wonderful job pointing the finger back at GOD and how HE worked through the whole story and giving HIM all the credit, I wish they would have spent some more time developing Ray's spiritual progression to the point of his unshakeable faith than they did.
Over all 'Till We Meet Again is an exciting, epic. The ending I felt was a bit rushed and a few key elements I felt were not full developed like they should have been. But the book does a great job showing a real life war through the eyes of a real, ordinary soldier in a way that we as civilians who have never experienced such can stomach. I'd give 'Till We Meet Again by: Ray & Betty Whipps with Craig Borlase a 5 out of 5 (see side bar for rating scale).
Ray mentions at the end of the book, he not "any kind of hero". If we view a "hero" as someone to be idolized as a god than no, Ray is not a hero. He is a victor. A conquer who by following the orders of his Heavenly General persevered through, in my opinion, one of the worlds most spiritually testing times in history. And through his and his wife's story, and the stories of my grandfathers and other veterans, I am given the courage to stand strong in the face of danger. For my GOD is with me wherever I may go.
"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
Joshua 1:9 KJV
P.S. I was given Till We Meet Again by: Ray & Betty Whipps with Craig Borlase by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.
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