Book Review: Flygirl by Sherri L Smith

Book: Flygirl by Sherri L Smith

Published January 2009 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|288 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

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 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.

I liked Flygirl!  It’s definitely worth checking out, and I really liked reading Ida Mae’s story.

So one thing I didn’t particularly like was how old Ida Mae was.  It’s mentioned in the book that she’s 20, which I thought was really strange.  I mean, it reads as YA, and I thought Ida Mae was a lot younger than she really was.  That didn’t particularly work for me, but it is what it is.

I did like the friendships she formed with some of her fellow WASP’s, and being a WASP really brought them together.  You really saw how Ida just wanted to be a pilot, like her dad was.  You see her struggle with her fellow WASP’s finding out she’s black, and you see what it’s like for her to be a pilot in a man’s world.  One scene that was really heartbreaking was when her mom came to Ida’s flight school, pretending to be the family maid so people wouldn’t know that Ida was passing as white.

There is some conflict with her family and friends back home about passing for white, but it’s not something that really comes up in her time as WASP.  I think I thought (based on the summary) that it would play more of a part than it really did.  I’m white, though, so I could be completely wrong about that.

The book ended with a lot of things being pretty open-ended.  You’re not sure if Ida Mae goes back home to her family, or if she tries to make it as a pilot once the WASP program ended.  I don’t mind it when books have an open ending, but in this case, I wanted to know more about Ida Mae’s future.

3 stars.  I liked Flygirl, and how Ida Mae was caught between two different worlds.  It’s a great book if you want World War II historical fiction about a part of history that doesn’t come up in your average history class.  I didn’t love it, but it was an interesting read.

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