Friday, September 18, 2009

Review: Flygirl by Sherri L Smith

Found via: BBYA 2010 nominations

I absolutely love books that take one subject and explore it through multiple lenses. Flygirl isn't my first exposure to the Women Airforce Service Pilots program, and it's certainly not the first book to look at a woman trying to make it in a "man's world," especially during World War II. Flygirl gains its complexity through its protagonist, Ida Mae Jones, who is not only a young woman eager to serve her country in its time of need, but is an African-American woman in the precarious position of "passing" in rural Texas.

Smith does an excellent job conveying the multiple hardships Ida must endure, from flight instructors that don't believe women have any place in airplanes ("the kitchen's much safer" one repeatedly reminds the pilots) to dangerous airplanes, to having to treat her dark-skinned mother like the family help when she comes to visit Ida at Christmas. Ida knows she's constantly in danger - either from poor equipment or having her race discovered - yet she keeps pushing through in an inspiring adventure that teaches on multiple levels.
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