Sherri L. Smith’s Flygirl has been getting great buzz through the kidlitosphere, and with good reason. Smith offers readers a story rooted in a fascinating and little known aspect of war history, a heroine with heart (and guts), plenty of high-flying adventure and rich themes to keep you thinking long after the book ends.
In 1940s Louisiana, Ida Mae Jones works hard cleaning people’s houses, earning money to help support her family after her father’s death. Aside from her devotion to her brothers, her Mama and her Grandy, she has one great love: flying. Taught by her father, Ida Mae can really fly, and she’d do just about anything to follow her dream to become a pilot. When she learns of the WASP program (Women Airforce Service Pilots), Ida Mae’s resolve is put to the test. She forges her father’s pilot license and heads to the training center, where she has to pass as a white woman in order to even be considered for the program. Ida Mae must keep her identity secret, a choice that disappoints her family and forces her to pretend to be someone she isn’t as she forges new friendships at the base. What follows is an account of her training, the challenges and risks of being a WASP, and the story of one young woman reaching for her greatest goal.
I loved Flygirl because it’s impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of Ida Mae’s journey, and in the gamble she takes in order to fly. Sherri L. Smith proves her writing skill by creating a convincing, fully-developed character and crafting a plot that is full of action. Isn’t that what the best writing delivers? Great character + plot that never stops.
This book is sure to get readers talking too, and will offer plenty for teens to relate to because it’s about making choices, deciding what you want and going after it, and staying true to yourself at the hardest moments. Flygirl explores many themes, among them: how the past and your own desires shape your identity, different kinds of sacrifice, and the courage it takes to dive into life. Truly a story of girl power, inspired by the women pilots who broke down many barriers at a time when the skies belonged to men.
I am so excited to be involved in Sherri’s upcoming blog tour. She will stop here at Shelf Elf on February 13th, and I’ll keep you posted when her tour starts with Little Willow at Bildungsroman on January 29th.
Flygirl is published by Putnam.