The Navigator, by Jim Caple

                Sportswriter Jim Caple has written a sentimental and at times whimsical fiction story (certainly inspired by true events) about a WWII veteran at the end of his life, seeking closure. Roy, a 91-year-old former Navigator for B-24 bombers during the war, is wracked by an unknowing guilt about whether bombs his plane dropped near a Romanian village killed any innocent people. He convinces his two children to take him on a trip to either ease his mind, or allow him to apologize for his unavoidable, but still potentially tragic, actions. This is a compelling story of a man with a conscience confronting the horrors of wartime.

                Along the way we meet Kent and Roslyn, the children who have not heard all the stories from the war, but who have always been guided by their navigator father. We learn their stories and Mr. Caple weaves their emotions with their father’s as they struggle with their own life challenges. The feelings are sincere and poignant. The author also mixes in his father’s first-hand accounts of the events during the war. The story explains Roy’s anxiety and concern for the unknown villagers he may have harmed, and it also narrates his meeting with his future wife.

                This is not a graphic war-is-hell story. It’s totally appropriate for young readers who may know little of WWII. It will feel like a bedtime story told by their grandfather. There is nothing controversial, explicit, or gory. It’s a story of redemption and closure. Caple also sprinkles in lots of Seattle Mariners and other baseball references to remind us that sports binds us all together.


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