I expected to like this book, as it deals with topics dear to my heart. I enjoy learning more about the lives of those who experienced World War II, and as a woman, it’s uplifting to see other women thrive. Flygirl was a satisfying read in those respects, and went beyond them.
I know, as a white woman, I can only understand a limited amount of what it means to be a black woman. And while I know will never fully grasp what black women of the 1940s endured, not just in wartime, but because of deep prejudice that affects their lives in a myriad of ways beyond the battlefields, I still need to try as best I can.
Author Sherri L. Smith does a marvelous job of taking us into the mind and heart of Ida Mae Jones, as she pursues her passion for flying at any cost. I don’t think Ida Mae realized how much she’d be changing and sacrificing through the ‘simple’ act of exploiting her natural looks to pass for white. As her story unfolds, we learn along with her how steep a price she will be asked to pay to achieve her dreams.
This is a story that has its best moments when focusing on the details of Ida’s life. Ida snapping beans with her mother. Doting on her younger brother. Worrying for her older brother, already off to war. Working hard to clean other people’s homes. And later, the daily details that a passing woman must stay constantly aware of. How exhausting it would be to micromanage every aspect of your existence in order to be accepted!
I recommend Flygirl for its historic value, and just as importantly, as a means to gain understanding and empathy for people making their way during a unique time and place in history.