WINGS OF A DREAM
by Anne Mateer
Reviewed by Regina Jennings
When Rebekah Hendricks' suitor leaves Oklahoma for aviator training in Dallas, the months ahead of her look bleak. Struggling against the uncertainties of World War I, Rebekah dreams of the day when Arthur will return and she can start her real life with him. In the meantime, she goes to help her widowed aunt in Texas with the hope that her sweetheart will visit from his training base nearby.
Rebekah arrives at her aunt's to find the town devastated by the Spanish flu epidemic. Not only is Aunt Adabelle deathly ill, but Rebekah discovers that Aunt Adabelle is the sole caregiver of four motherless children and until their father returns from the war Rebekah is the only one able to care for them.
Frustrated at times by her inability to escape, Rebekah shoulders the burden and waits for Arthur to make good on his promises to whisk her away, but the longer he delays the more she feels bound to remain with the children until their father comes home.
This story has a gentle pace that contrasts with the hardship and desperation that Rebekah faces. Mateer's description of a town under the ravages of the Flu Epidemic of 1918 is chilling, but tempered by warm neighbors and the bonds that grow between Rebekah and the children. Isolated by fear and a scarcity of healthy adults, readers will sympathize with Rebekah's difficulties and cheer her determination. And even after the passing of the epidemic and the end of the war, Mateer doesn't let the story sag, but introduces the best complication in the form of a war-weary father who isn't sure what to do with the young woman who has earned his children's love.
Excellent read. I highly recommend it.