“Red Tail Heart” by Kenneth W. Williams is a poignant story of the juxtaposition between a young successful divorce lawyer, Christopher (Chris) Irvin, and the tale of his uncle, Roy Lankster who was an important pilot from the Tuskegee Airmen squadron. Roy had to combat the ingrained prejudice of his era and served his nation above and beyond the call of duty but Chris had primarily considered him to be his “crazy old great-uncle” until a traumatic experience leads Chris to re-examine his own life and follow the amazing journey that was Roy’s life. Chris is reminded that he has been a Francophile for all of his life, and realizes that a trip to France during his early teens is a pivotal point in both his and Uncle Roy’s lives. The lyrical reminiscences presented through Roy’s letters and journal lead one through a traumatic journey that touches upon the horror of the Holocaust and the behind-the-scenes efforts of Americans and their allies. The atrocities performed upon each other by those who should have been allies lead to a tumultuous and tortured life for Roy as he is reviled by those who should have honored his efforts. Chris is only gradually made aware of the depth of sacrifice and reasons behind his great-uncle’s actions when he himself finally achieves clarity by comparing his own teen experiences and the details recorded in letters to his grandmother and his great-uncle’s own journal.
A lyrical and romantic tale that is also an unflinching look at some of the inequities perpetrated by America upon its own citizens. The writing in this debut novel is a bit uneven and somewhat difficult to appreciate at first but the tale is well worth persevering once one gets used to the shifting in voice and time period. Quirky situations abound during Roy’s journey to recover himself and search for his soul-mate and there are intriguing thumbnail sketches of the myriad of characters that he encounters during his travels. Certain details strain credulity but add flavor to the ethnic tale which describes heroics in the face of disdain and rampant prejudice. The reader will experience a gamut of emotions but will be reminded of the importance of love and tolerance in a world that sometimes seems to lean toward the opposite direction.
Beleaguered divorce attorney Christopher Irvin was far more astute at putting marriages asunder than creating one of his own. So when the specter of death shattered the quiet complacency of his well-ordered world, he began to re-evaluate his life from the ground up.
Chris' search for meaning leads him directly to his expatriate uncle, Roy Lankster, a decorated member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. Nearly 50 years earlier, Roy's P 51 Mustang fighter plane crashed in France in the lead up to WWII's D-Day invasion. Broken, battered and barely alive, he's rescued by Marie Renoir, a member of the French Resistance. Their courage in the face of the ever present danger of capture is only overshadowed by a love between them so powerful that it rivals the first and greatest love in human history. The raging war, synthetic insanity, and the unassigned immoral forces of the universe conspire to tear them apart.
Chris, through Roy's writings, relives his uncle's relentless struggle to reunite with his love for the ages and embarks upon on a personal journey of love and redemption.