Benjamin’s Field is, in the end, a story about overcoming intolerance, prejudice, preconceived notions and, yes, hatred. This is a recurring theme in the story, whether it’s about a farmer who misjudges a priest he doesn’t understand; a priest who condemns a group of men he knows nothing about; a society that punishes unwed mothers and their children; a teacher who berates a pupil with a disability; a grandson of slaves who stands tall despite the odds; a twisted militant racist bent on destroying all those he deems inferior; a child who is punished by society’s institutions and those he was taught to trust because he was born unlike those around him.
This is a story about determination and strength of character. It’s about our need to help each other and our overwhelming need to forgive one another. It teaches that our greatest achievements are for others, not ourselves; overcoming difficulties makes us stronger; disappointments can be blessings in disguise; help can come from unexpected sources; sometimes one door must close so another can open; it's futile to blame God for pain that's inflicted by our fellow human beings
Ultimately, I chose as my champion a bullied child in danger of being marginalized because he was born different. He, like so many others, is victimized by those with small and ignorant minds whose only reaction when confronting someone unlike themselves is to inflict pain.
Aviation is prevalent throughout the story, but as a metaphor. Our hero uses wings to raise himself above those who would hold him down and tie him to the ground. Ultimately, he flies toward his own destiny, where he achieves his emancipation and no longer needs airplanes in order to be free.
While there are other books that speak of overcoming hardship and prejudice, I’ve seen none that invite the reader to climb into a fabric covered airplane and fly into the lives of a family that is struggling against the odds to achieve what we all want: respect and acceptance.
Anyone who has ever been on the outside looking in – for whatever reason – will thrill to a flight to freedom from Benjamin’s field.
About J.J. Knights
J. J. Knights is a retired FBI Special Agent. His assignments included violent crimes and fugitives, property crimes, civil rights investigations, and foreign counterintelligence. He was a surveillance pilot, SWAT sniper, media representative, and worked in the FBI's technical investigations program. Knights also volunteered as a Civil Air Patrol pilot, squadron commander and public information officer. He is an emeritus member of the Imperial Public Relations Committee of Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children. A native of New England, Knights resides in southwestern Pennsylvania with his wife and honeybees. He has authored several published articles on law enforcement recruiting. Benjamin's Field is his first novel.