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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
When my teacher recommended FLYGIRL to me, I thought it would be a quick, forgettable read.
I was wrong, at least in the forgettable part.
FLYGIRL is a quick read about an ambitious main character with big dreams living in a community that discriminates against her. Throughout this book, I appreciated how realistic and well thought out the characters were. I loved getting to know Ida Mae’s friends and family, and her especially. She’s strong and clever, but always in danger of losing everything. Her fears of what would happen if people knew the truth are pragmatic, and I liked that she thought things through.
Ida Mae can’t control everything though, and I really enjoyed reading her story, especially the ending. Eventually, Ida Mae has to reconcile the two parts of her life and I thought Smith did a great job of bringing them together.
Based on the historical nature of this book, I didn’t think I learned much other than the everyday life and struggles of Ida Mae. In that aspect, I loved the world-building of this novel, but if you’re looking for a strictly fact-based, fact-rich story, this isn’t for you. I would probably recommend THE BOOK THIEF or CODE NAME VERITY. All in all, a surprising and worthwhile story. 4 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 288