Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book Review: Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Ida Mae loves to fly and dreams of being a licensed pilot. But she has two big obstacles living in the American south in the 1940’s – she’s a woman and she’s black. When the US enters World War II and Ida Mae reads about the Women Airforce Service Pilots program, she decides to apply. Because she knows she has no chance to be admitted into the program as a black, she decides to try to pass as white (which she can thanks to her light skin), even though her family is against it.

This is a solid and inspiring novel about following your dreams no matter the risks (and what rules you have to break). Ida Mae doesn’t want to hurt her family by passing as white, and to allay her mother’s fears that she is turning her back on her heritage she says:

“I wasn’t hiding anything when I went into that room and face-to-face with an actual woman Army Air Forces pilot. And do you know what she saw? Not a negro woman, not a white woman, not a high yellow. But a pilot, Mama. A good pilot they need. Don’t you see? This is what daddy used to fly for. The chance to be everything other than the color of his skin.”

The race element is a theme which adds tension throughout, as once Ida Mae is accepted, she lives in fear of being found out. But we also learn a lot about what women went through to prove themselves as pilots and get to know the kinds of women who would take such a challenge on. It reminded me in tone and story a bit of “A League of their Own”, the movie about women who were allowed to play professional baseball while all the men were off to war, but who were unfortunately never going to be taken seriously outside wartime. It educates while it entertains, which is something I always look for in a historical novel.

Flygirl comes out in hardcover in one week on Jan. 22nd.

19 comments:

Thao said...

The story seems serious yet it it makes me feel really curious. I don't think I've read anything like this before. Thanks for the review Lenore ; D

Alea said...

I loved the cover long before I knew what it was about and then I read what it was about and thought oh my lord that cover is so not right. And then I read further and it all made sense. Definitely interesting!

bermudaonion said...

That sounds so good!

Lenore said...

Alea - I had the same reaction as you!

Alea said...

At first I thought someone really messed up big time!

Lenore said...

Yeah, that would have been really ironic actually!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Nice review. I didn't know a ton about this book, but it sounds really interesting. I love the quote you posted. So nice.

-Lauren

Cindy B said...

This sounds good. I reminds me of Bessie Coleman, a real Black pilot and her experiences.

Lenore said...

Cindy - if I remember correctly, Bessie was mentioned in the book!

Shalonda said...

I am so looking forward to reading Flygirl. It sounds amazing!

Jordyn said...

Wow. Looking forward to this book. I have a huge soft spot for books about pilots and flying - the fact that my dad's a pilot has instilled a love of aviation in me and I'm pretty sure Amelia Earhart is one of my heroes.

Teddy Rose said...

This book sounds wonderful! I added it to my TBR.

I also added the link to the ARC Challenge post.

Elizabeth said...

I read this a few months ago and enjoyed it, also - I love novels about historical periods/events that I don't know a lot about, and this certainly fit!

Anna said...

I really enjoyed your review. This sounds like a great book and perfect for our WWII reading challenge. Would it be okay if I linked to your review on the book reviews page at War Through the Generations?

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Lenore said...

Of course you may Anna!

Ali said...

This is so strange, scrolling back I remember every one of your reviews and posts but this one. Now that I've seen it, I'm really looking forward to reading this book! Wonder if it's on order at my library yet?

Anna said...

Thank you! I added the link here.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Madeleine said...

Love the quote!! Its one of my favorites in the book. I'm also writing a review for this book for school. It's defidently one to read.

MLB said...

I LOVED this book. I'm glad someone wrote such a great review--this book should be noticed!