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 have recommended this book to everyone I've seen in the past few days. It was so good! Historical fiction is not my favorite genre, but I was blown away by Flygirl.
Smith's writing voice immediately transports you to 1940s Louisiana. Ida Mae is a fully developed, complicated character. She wants to honor and respect her family, but what if doing so for part of her family means alienating the rest? Is it worth hiding who you are if doing so gets you what you want? Should people be judged on their skin color or sex, or should they be judged on their abilities and skills?
Ida Mae lived in a time where being a black girl was a one-two punch in the face. She has limited options and is constantly confronted with prejudice and insults. But she doesn't let that stop her from pursuing her dreams and trying to do what is right. I loved her.
Five out of five B-29s.
Release Date: January 2009
Reading Level: Grade 5+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: CAUDILL