Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her. When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots—and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.
In school, I was always the girl that's eyes glazed over during history class. To me it was all a bunch of dates, facts, and mini-bio of people. Nothing for to grasp onto or become interested in. So when I heard about Flygirl I was afraid (like with all things historical) the same thing would happen. And to my great surprise and relief I loved it! Flygirl is a very engaging book that pieces together parts of an era and presents it in a narrative form. I seriously bet if Flygirl had been paired with a chapter on WWII in my high school history class I would have been interested a hundred more times over.
On to the story. Along with my hesitation about a historical book I've never really cared one way or another about flying. But this book made me care. Care about all the female pilots proving they are great at what they do, achieving their dreams, and just having that chance to fly. It was very empowering to read!
I loved the character of Ida Mae and her struggles to stay true to herself and her love of flying but also her family. I could totally sympathize with her, in a time period when the rights of African Americans and Women were not what they are today and should have been, it's hard to play by the rules when you know they are wrong. I thought Ida Mae handled her dilemma very well. The secondary characters were also great. Especially her close friends at training, Patsy and Lily. What a great bond they formed! I also appreciated how the ending was handled. It's one women's story and this is just the beginning of her journey.
Flygirl was a very engaging book that opened me up to a whole era that I had never really thought about at any great length. There is joy, sorrow, and real life. It was wonderful!
Flygirl was released on January 22nd.
ARC received from publisher
What is one historical fiction book that you enjoyed?