The Loft's Reviews > Flygirl

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
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Oct 17, 2009

bookshelves: ya-historical-fiction

Flygirl takes place during World War II and is about Ida Mae Jones (nickname Jonsey), a young African-American woman who wants to fly airplanes more than anything else. But two things are stopping her: her race and her gender. But when she hears about WASP, Women Airforce Service Pilots, she is determined to join the program. She is light skinned enough to pass for white, but to keep up the charade she has to pretend not to know her own family and lie to her friends in WASP to keep them from being punished in case she is found out.

“‘I’m not allowed to dance with a–’ I stop myself from saying ‘white man.’ Jenkins raises an eyebrow.

‘With an instructor?’ Jenkins asks. I blush and remember Deatie Deaton’s bylaws. Something about fraternizing with the instructors…I hesitate. The rules of the South don’t apply to Jonesy, I remind myself, but Mrs. Deaton’s bylaws do.

‘Don’t worry, Miss Jones, I’m off duty.’

I don’t move. He might be an off-duty instuctor, but am I off duty as a colored girl? His hand is still outstreached, reaching for mine. I think of my mother’s warnings–is this the line she told me I might cross?”

As Ida Mae tries to stay true to her dreams of flying, she also tries to figure out what staying true to herself means. She isn’t sure if she wants to “pass for white” for the rest of her life or go back to an unsatisfying life of being a maid after the war. Flygirl is very engaging and well-written. Even if you normally don’t like historical fiction you will find yourself caught up in Ida Mae’s story.
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