It begins with a softball game in Madison, Iowa in 1950; before the story ends a young man faces almost certain death far away in the Korean War. The story is a tribute to a young woman's love--as well as the survival teachings of one George Grey Eagle on the Blackhawk Indian Reservation. It's a romance built on the theme of acceptance of those who are culturally and religiously different than ourselves; after all, one character says, "If God can accept people in heaven from all faiths, then who are we to question whom God accepts?"
"Love's Journey" ($19.95 in paperback from Books by Mode, www.booksbymode.com) is by Chico CPA James (Jim) Rozendaal. Rozendaal will be signing copies at Lyon Books in Chico on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 7:00 p.m.
The first-time novelist was raised on an Iowa farm and knows the importance of religious tradition in small-town life. And therein lies the rub. Tommy Van Haaften, just out of high school and working in construction, falls in love with Allison Jorgenson, a tall blond Swede completing nursing school at the University Hospital in Des Moines. But the Dutch ought not mix with the Swedes, at least according to family tradition. The two fathers are adamant that their children not marry "outside their faith."
The story is straightforward and the language (and the lovers) chaste and even polite. This is in part a tale of military heroism, but it's also the story of almost mystical intuition. Grey Eagle talks to Tommy about Allison: "Love is the driving force in the universe. Your connection to her will be your ticket back. So the stronger the connection, the more certain your ticket." To Allison, grieving over Tommy's distance, he says: "You need to find your own sense of knowing. And when you do, it will sustain you no matter what the external circumstances."
When Tommy is wounded, captured and beaten on the battle front, his mother feels similar pains. She remains confident of his return.
Along the way Allison is befriended by a newspaper publisher who takes an interest in Tommy's ability to withstand torture. Eventually his story is published and becomes a book entitled "Love's Journey." Those looking for a happy ending will find it.