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Guest Post by Dorine Andrews - Boundary Breaking Storyteller, Blogger, and Author

Dorine Andrews — Boundary Breaking Storyteller, Blogger, and Author

Dorine Andrews developed her storytelling voice blogging about living in Tennessee in Memphis Diaries; approaching her golden years in Sixties Shorties; revealing the ups and downs of owning, captaining, and living aboard a sailboat in Raghauler Journal, and accounting for retired life in Dare I. Jack’s Gift is her debut novel.

After a consulting career of over thirty years, co-authoring two business books and many industry articles, she earned her doctorate in digital communications design (DCD) in 2000 from the University of Baltimore. She taught at Georgetown University in its Communications, Culture, and Technology graduate program and at the University of Baltimore in the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences.

She was also the chief information officer for the Peace Corps from 2010 to 2015. Dorine lives in northern Virginia.

Book Blurb

When you live a life of adventure, your history rarely stays in the past.

The year is 1944. After defying her mother’s warnings about American men and then learning that her lover Jack’s B-17 bomber has vanished suspiciously over the North Sea, raven-haired British-Indian woman Amahli is left abandoned, pregnant, and in agony. Lost in waves of grief, Amahli vows to never love again. But, for her daughter to thrive, Amahli must confront her fears and let go of the past. She wins an assignment in her male-dominated profession and crosses the Atlantic with her young daughter, JJ. In search of a relationship with Jack’s family, Amahli shares JJ, and herself, with the American grandparents. Will revealing her secrets inspire their acceptance, or will the cruel actions of those she has trusted crush her hopes and put her daughter’s future in peril?

Jack’s Gift is the story of a passionate woman who defies convention, breaks barriers, and shatters expectations.


The Inspiration and Research Behind Jack’s Gift

Three years ago, I found the time and energy to sort through a storage box filled with letters, photos, and mementos I inherited from my mother. At the bottom of the box was a square yellowed gift box held together with tape and rubber bands. Across the cover were the handwritten words, “Dorothy’s letters”. It was there that I found a cache of handwritten and typed letters from and to my grandmother between 1942 and 1948. There were letters from my dad’s younger and only sibling (my uncle), fellow crewmen, and the parents of crewmen. There were newspaper articles, photos, maps, and official government letters and telegrams. These original documents took several months to read and organize into a coherent understandable whole. I stored the items in slip sheets and placed them chronologically into a low-tech three ring binder.

At the core of the correspondence was the death of my uncle who was just twenty-two years old, two years before I was born. He and all the crew of the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber Arf & Arf disappeared suspiciously in the North Sea while returning from a bombing run in Germany on November 8, 1944. He was declared missing in action for a year though firsthand accounts clearly stated all had died in the crash. From here, I went to the internet and confirmed the details of a midair collision to be historically accurate. It was important that I weave this correspondence into the story.

I also visited the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, outside of Savannah, Georgia. I was able to see firsthand a B-17 bomber, inside and out. I learned how my uncle became a navigator without a college degree or engineering training and that his heroism was honored with a commemorative plaque in the Netherlands.

For the locations in the book, I’ve traveled in the UK extensively over the years and lived in the U.S. midwest for many years. I was able to use my own experiences of these landscapes as my research.

Following the advice often given to new writers to “write what you know”, I began my debut novel with a bit of family history. However, the true inspiration for the story came when I asked myself, “Suppose that when my uncle died, he left behind a relationship that would have changed the course of my family’s history?” And that is what I did: I created the fictional relationship he left behind and the story that followed.

Several of the story’s characters are loosely based on my family:father, grandmother, grandfather, and uncle. My uncle was a kind-of-good looking guy with great charm and a fiercely independent streak. My father was the older brother, the first college graduate in the family, destined to be a corporate executive. My grandmother was the model for Dorothy in the book, a woman who believed in dreams, reincarnation, and messages from beyond. But the other characters, and the story of what happens after my uncle’s death, are creative fiction.

The protagonist, Amahli Simmons, is an adventurous woman, who willingly takes a risk when she fallsin love with Jack, the US B-17 navigator. Jack’s Gift is her story, the story of a passionate woman who defies convention, breaks barriers, and shatters expectations.

The book was released in December 2020, but, based on feedback from multiple sources that told me that the story was great but the book needed editorial work, I decided to rework the book. The new release, just out this October 26, 2021 provides an expanded story, new cover and polished editing. The reviews speak for themselves.

"This poignant story of love, relationships, family ties, and how the most tragic circumstances can yield unexpectedly rewarding results is both convincing and deeply moving...few writers are as deeply engaged as Andrews."

— The Prairies Book Review

"Andrews nicely captures the energy, cadence, and ambience of the period...Amahli is a formidable, break-the-glass-ceiling protagonist...[an] enjoyable family drama with culturally diverse characters."

— Kirkus Reviews

“Jack’s Gift was indeed a gift that moved me to amazement and genuine delight. I didn’t want to put it down…and when I had to, I found a reason to get back to it quickly. Amahli’s powerful personality, and the dynamic relationships and continual surprises make it a very good read.”

— Neil Kleinman, Professor Emeritus, University of the Arts, Philadelphia

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