Book Review: They Called Him Marvin by Roger Stark

Blurb:

They were just kids, barely not teenagers, madly in love and wanting to be a family, but WW2 got in their way. Three hundred ten days before Pearl Harbor, buck private Dean Sherman innocently went to church with a new friend in Salt Lake City. From that moment, the unsuspecting soldier travelled a remarkable, heroic path, falling in love, graduating from demanding training to become a B29 pilot, conceiving a son and entering the China, Burma and India theater of the WW2. He chronicled his story with letters home to his bride Connie that he met on that fateful Sunday, blind to the fact that fifteen hundred seventy-five days after their meeting, a Japanese swordsman would end his life. His crew, a gaggle of Corporals that dubbed themselves the Corporalies, four officers and a tech Sargent, adventured their way across the globe. Flying the “Aluminum Trail” also called the Hump through the Himalayas, site of the most dangerous flying in the world. Landing in China to refuel and then fly on to places like Manchuria, Rangoon or even the most southern parts of Japan to drop 500 pounders. Each mission had its challenges, minus fifty-degree weather in Mukden, or Japanese fighters firing away at them, a close encounter of the wrong kind, nearly missing a collision with another B29 while flying in clouds, seeing friends downed and lost because of “mechanicals,” the constant threat of running out of fuel and their greatest fear, engine fire. Transferred to the Mariana Islands, he and his crew were shot down over Nagoya, Japan as part of Mission 174, captured and declared war criminals. Connie’s letters reveal life for a brand-new mother whose husband is declared MIA. The agony for both of them; he in a Japanese prison, declared a war criminal, and she just not knowing why his letters stopped coming. Lilliyana Shadowlyn’s review: This was an amazing book. This isn’t a look at war through rose colored glasses, but one that shows the reader what life was like for people from many backgrounds. A soldier, his love left behind on the home front, and those that were considered the enemy at the time. This was an intimate story that doesn’t focus only on the war and pulls the reader in quickly and easily. Historical fiction lovers, those with an interest in war history, and anyone just looking to take a few steps back in time will greatly enjoy reading this. Another reviewer explains: “I am a fan of historical fiction and this story did not disappoint. It was sweet, tragic, personal, and moving. Gradually and almost imperceptibly, the story of two wartime sweethearts begins circling the drain of a tragedy you know is coming. The book begins with the ending, but by the time you get there you have convinced yourself that it can’t possibly be the case. I enjoyed every moment, even the ones that left me in tears. The letters between Connie and Dean provided a fascinating glimpse into wartime life. Reading the experiences of people both at home and abroad was very engaging. I found myself eagerly awaiting the next letter, right along with the young couple! Lastly, the book left me with an overwhelming acknowledgement of the universal trauma and tragedy of war. The Sherman’s are not the only family we meet in the book and the weaving together of several different narratives added a depth to the story that’s hard to put into words. I definitely encourage anyone to read this book, especially if historical novels are not something you typically read. This is a story about people and you won’t want it to end.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review:

If you love reading stories from the past and those on wars, you will enjoy this story. I love how the letters between Connie and Dean depict the love between them, the losses, yearnings and hard time during war. The letters are the real letters the couple sent to each other during the war. A mix between fictional story and true events based on research, this story hooks readers of the modern world, especially in the post
pandemic time, when we have gone through separation and pain, that can evoke the emotions people would have felt back in World War 2. It also beautifully depicts the challenges soldiers go through in their
daily lives, one that is full of emotional pain and the anxiousness in not knowing what is to come next in life, given the uncertain nature of war. As Connie becomes a mother, her husband goes through a difficult time and the letter exchange between them abruptly stops. This is when the readers are brought into a real emotional roller coaster.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: They Called Him Marvin by Roger Stark

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed ‘They Called Him Marvin”! “a real emotional roller coaster,” it certainly is!

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