Monday, January 5, 2009

Enchanting Review: Flygirl

YA Historical Fiction
ISBN# 978-0-399-24709-5
288 pages
Hardcover – Available January 2009

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Ida Mae Jones, though light-skinned, is of African American descent. But even is race and gender are cause for discrimination in the South in the 1940s, Ida Mae tries not to let it affect her. All she wants to do is fly, because in the air is where she feels free, and she’s determined not to let anything get in the way of her dreams to become a pilot.

But Ida Mae’s world drastically changed when the US enters the Second World War Her brother Thomas joins the army as a doctor, and Ida Mae’s hopes of flying are nearly dashed because she knows her family needs her more than ever. And then she hears about WASP, or Women Air force Service Pilots, and her fiery desire to fly is rekindled. The only problem is that Ida Mae is black, and WASP is a program for white women. So, determined to fly and help her country, Ida Mae lies and passes herself off as a white woman. But even as she lives her dream in an exciting and dangerous new world, she can’t ignore the lies that are building up and the guilt for leaving her family that gnaws at her. FLYGIRL is Ida Mae’s incredible tale of chasing your dreams and being true to yourself.

I am a big fan of historical fiction, and I have to say that FLYGIRL was very well-researched and well-written. I’d never heard of WASP before, so it was a delight to learn about. Smith accurately portrayed the turbulent times of World War Two, from gender and racial prejudices to the crazy war fever. I loved all of Smith’s characters, especially Ida Mad and her two WASP friends, Patsy and Lily, because their personalities were so distinct and vibrant, it was like they jumped right off the page. It was probably their authenticity that made the tragedies of warfare all the more difficult to read about. Unfortunately, FLYGIRL had its awkward moments as well. Sometimes Ida Mae was a little too conflicted about striving for what she deserved versus accepting her lot, and her resulting actions never seemed completely right. I felt Ida Mar’s relationships with her friends and family could’ve been strengthened also. Lastly, I was disappointed the story was not longer, because I felt Ida Mae’s life still had too many loose ends to be tied up. I’m not really sure how I feel about FLYGIRL’s message, because it’s a messy cross between serving your country and staying true to yourself and your dreams, but I can’t deny that FLYGIRL was a moving story and fantastic read.

FLYGIRL began as Sherri L. Smith’s master’s thesis project and bloomed into this great story. Smith has written three other novels, and you can visit her online at her website,

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
November 2008

No comments:

Post a Comment