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Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite
Seven Wings to Glory by Kathleen M. Rodgers is a story of family, faith and forgiveness. Johnnie Kitchen has endured her share of grief and heartache, as well as joy and love. But, once again, her chutzpah and resolve must be tested. “You got to have faith.” Johnnie hears these words as her youngest son, Cade, deploys to Afghanistan. This year, Memorial Day has greater meaning for Johnnie. Grieving the loss of her father she never knew, and feeling the absence of her son, Johnnie stares at the monument in Soldier’s Park. This precious moment is interrupted by an act of racial harassment toward her and her best friend, Whit. After this dreadful event, Johnnie channels her anger, worry and fear through writing. Her column in the local newspaper gives Johnnie a voice. Her words begin to ring loud and clear as she exposes racism, past and present, in her small Texas community. While her son fights in Afghanistan, Johnnie battles the ghosts of war at home.
Seven Wings to Glory captures the mind, heart and soul of its heroine. Kathleen M. Rodgers' gift of storytelling is extraordinary. She pens true emotions, and although her works are fictional, they portray genuine realities. Her words and writing style pluck at your heartstrings. The narrative is a sequel to Johnnie Come Lately, and Rodgers carefully pens snapshots from the first book, creating harmony between the past and the present. Her experience as a military wife is exposed in the lives of her cast of characters. The duality of sentiments is revealed in her characters. Pride and prejudice, fear and faith, hope and doubt become chaotic blends of their thoughts and deeds. Furthermore, I personally love the character of Brother Dog, and his significance within the story.
In the midst of the emotional tug of war, the action patiently flows like melted butter over steaming vegetables, covering every nook and cranny. The plot harnesses the traumas of war on the battlefield and at home, while simultaneously creating subplots of racism and family dysfunction. One of my favorite lines within the book is: “We’re all just made out of clay, some lighter, some darker. And yet we get caught up in name-calling over our shades.” The depth of those words is profound, and the image not easily forgotten. The theme throughout the story is faith. No matter what happens, or how bad life seems – never surrender your hope. Do whatever it takes to survive and then move on. With each word, the story becomes more earnest and heartfelt. Seven Wings to Glory is a novel that you don’t want to end.