Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Flygirl” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.96  ·  Rating details ·  7,061 ratings  ·  989 reviews
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 someth
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published January 22nd 2009 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Flygirl, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Hannah I think that's the point of the book. She looks white: "Just Little Miss Pretty Hair and Her Creamy White Skin." In the media, there's a light-skin bi…moreI think that's the point of the book. She looks white: "Just Little Miss Pretty Hair and Her Creamy White Skin." In the media, there's a light-skin bias, where black women are depicted as beautiful with lighter skin, and sometimes magazines will lighten a black woman's skin. Because Ida Mae is black but has lighter skin, I bet she has more privilege than a darker black woman. I haven't read the whole book, but I bet that this book calls out the bias against blacks with darker skin and shows light-skinned privilege (aka, a combination of white privilege and racism). I don't think it visually misrepresents the book's contents. I think it's calling out our society's bias.

This book kind of reminds me of Puddn'head Wilson by Mark Twain because the main female character has black ancestry but looks white, and people don't realize she's black until she starts talking. Then, they treat her differently because she has black cultural features. (less)
Faith Snyder The Women of the WASP trained in Texas at the Houston Municipal Airport. You can visit the WASP memorial monument at Avenger Field in Sweetwater TX. T…moreThe Women of the WASP trained in Texas at the Houston Municipal Airport. You can visit the WASP memorial monument at Avenger Field in Sweetwater TX. These awesome women had to have at least 1,400 hours of flight time, on top of learning military euphemisms and codes before even being initiated into the branch, on top of fulfilling other requirements. They didn't receive any of the benefits that military men received upon joining the military such as healthcare, uniforms or housing, but they did get a mascot and it was drawn by Walt Disney and Roald Dahl! The age requirement was initially 21 but it was lowered to 18 and 1/2 in 1943. I'm in LOVE with WASP history! So glad to help!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,061 ratings  ·  989 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Flygirl
The Library Lady
Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Don't read this because of the blurb on the back by Newbery/Printz teacher's pet Jacqueline Woodson.

Don't read it just because it's a window on a seldom told story of women in WWII. Don't read it just because of the theme of an African American woman trying to pass for white in the segregated world of the 1940s. Don't read it just because you're looking for another "girls can do anything they put their minds to it despite the odds" sort of read.

Read it because it's well written, well researched
Tamora Pierce
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-yr, historical
I keep an eye open for every book Sherri L. Smith publishes, and I'm never disappointed. This is the story of a young woman of color, the daughter of a flyer, who passes as white to join the WASPs and fly for her country during WWII. Her goal--to serve her country--is admirable, but can she find peace with herself and her color as well? You'll have to read to find out, and you'll be glad you did.
Sherri L. Smith's "Flygirl" is a gem of a novel, taking place during the middle of World War II where a young woman enlists as a pilot in the army. However, in doing so, she not only faces the dangers that await her in the sky, but an everyday danger as she hides her racial identity in order to make her dreams happen. I loved the writing, the strength of the characterizations, and the overarching story as it deals with many difficult issues of the time - racism, sexism, and issues of identity an ...more
A fun read. I got very caught up in it about halfway through, especially during Ida Mae’s WASP training. The plot suffers a bit from lack of drive - nothing really connects one flight to another. And also, it ended rather abruptly, and without proper closure. But the characters are distinct and engaging, and the portrait of a typical WASP - a pretty fascinating subject by any account - is made even more intriguing by the added tension of black Ida Mae’s having to pretend to be a white girl in th ...more
Lauren Stoolfire
Flygirls by Sherri L. Smith is an absolute must read for fans of historical fiction that draws on real life events. I was right there the entire ride through all the ups and downs alongside Ida Mae! This novel also deals with race and passing, especially in regards to Southern America and the military, and it's a fascinating, if at times entirely overwhelming and crushing - that being said the author handles everything well. If you're interested in women in World War II, particularly the WASPs, ...more
Kaethe Douglas
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kaethe by: Justine Larbalestier, Doret
Originally Veronica picked it up at a school book sale. So, yes, I've been meaning to read it since she was in elementary school.

But Natasha spotted it and read it as part of her 40 Book Genre Challenge for school. And she loved it. So then I started it, and it was on my bedside table when the crew swept in, removed everything from my house, made the floor 3/4 of an inch taller and put everything more-or-less-back. So on the day itself, when I had time to read, I couldn't lay hands on a single
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Interesting concept, but I didn't think the writing or the plot was that well developed. It was a fairly short book, but it took me longer than I thought to get through it because it just didn't grab me. I liked the characters, but, again, it was hard to get into the book and become very connected to them. The concept of passing was interesting to me and the conflict and stress it introduced for Ida Mae, but when the book ended and we were left hanging on what would happen in her future, the que ...more
Lauren ✨ (TheBookishTwins)
A fantastic, well-researched, engaging historical fiction with important messages about identity. Ida Mae was an exceptional protagonist. The plot was a bit clumsy at times, but the distinct characters certainly made up for it. For fans of historical fiction or women in aviation, I would certainly recommend.
First sentence: "It's Sunday afternoon, and the phonograph player is jumping like a clown in a parade the way Jolene and I are dancing."

Ida Mae Jones just wants to fly. Ever since her father taught her in his crop duster, she has never felt more at home than in the cockpit of a plane. Now there is a war on and Ida Mae wants to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) to help with the war effort. The only roadblock is that the WASP does not accept African-American girls. Ida Mae faces the d
Ida Mae is an African-American who's light-skinned enough to pass as white. Although most other African-Americans would be rejected from serving, she uses her light skin to join the WASP(Women Airforce Service Pilots) and begin, she hopes, to serve her fighting brother and country.

Underlying the historical aspects, were beautiful dynamics of flying in the stead of her late father, finding identity, and her desire to stay pretty and feminine rather than "be one of the boys".

The biggest thing th
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Flyyyyyyy Girl! Say what, say what, say what?

Her name is Ida Mae and she's a flygirl,
And she didn't let World War II rock her world!

Flyyyyyyy Girl! Say what, say what, say what?

The title reminded me of the chant I remember from my childhood hopsctoch days.
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
"If you're colored, you get the short end of the stick. If you're a woman, you get the short end of the stick. So what do we get for being colored and women?"
Jolene sighs. "Beat hard with both ends of a short stick."

Ida Mae Jones is a young woman. A black young woman. A black young woman with a colour of skin that could pass as white. Her job is cleaning and washing for the wealthy whites but she loves to fly. When the opportunity comes to fly and to help with the war with WASP, she had to d
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Like Ida, the main character, this book was strong and inspiring.

At first, reading about Ida's life on her family's strawberry farm was a little dull, but I was immediately engrossed when she arrived on the base, when her soon-to-be best friends Patsy and Lily were introduced. I love books that illustrates strong friendships (like my last read, The Serpent King). Ida, Patsy, and Lily had extremely different personalities, but they were all united by one goal - to become a WASP - which brought t
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Jennie
Cover Story: Big Face, Pilot Edition
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: WASP
Bonus Factor: Trampling the Patriarchy
Relationship Status: Co-Pilot

Read the full book report here.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, a lot. It was a very interesting story that continued to hold my interest from start to finish.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
LOVE IT!!!!!1
All around excellent.

I loved Ida Mae's voice, and I felt her pain every time she faced a hurdle. Despite entering the story knowing the history of the WASP, I couldn't help holding my breath for every opportunity she hoped for. Sherri L. Smith made it feel so very real.

Jan 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own
I received an ARC of Flygirl ages ago and let it sit idly on my bookshelf. I procrastinated reading it thinking it was going to be a trite, stereotypically emotional book pounding its message into my head at the expense of good writing and good storytelling. Once I finally picked up the book and started reading, I was dismayed that I'd waited so long to read this book.

In some ways, the story and plot were what I expected to find. A black girl living in the south in mid-1900s…trying to find her o
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Well, I've always wanted to fly an airplane myself, so I could relate to Ida Mae's ambitions very well in this story. I was fascinated particularly by the double prejudice against her-- being female and being black. I just can't understand the attitude of thinking of someone lesser than you because their skin color is different. It just doesn't make sense. And yet, that's how it was back during World War II. Ida Mae's successful attempt to "pass" as a white person seemed so unnecessary to me, an ...more
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abby Crowley
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
The book FlyGirl by Sherri L. Smith was an intriguing book. I would give it a four out of five star rating. The beginning on the book was a little slow and it took a long time to get the the main event. This book is about a light skinned african american girl named Ida Mae Jones and she wants to be a pilot for the United States military and do her best to help America in World War 2. She reads about a program where women can learn to fly, the only problem is that it is for white people. So, in o ...more
Kelli Clark
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I enjoyed the experience of seeing the world through a young woman's eyes in the 1940's. And not just any woman- one who wants to do her part in the war effort by joining the "man's army" to be a pilot! The author really brings to light what it was like to live in segregation and for women to be told they can't do anything outside of being a housewife or secretary. Society truly feowned upon women having dreams to become more than a stay at home mom. It was empowering to see the main character, ...more
Mar 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
AS I mentioned earlier, this is very readable historical fiction. It would be a great addition to a collection to support WWI reads as well as Women's History. Now, I want something similar for my elementary library. I think the tone of this book is above most of my elementary upper grade readers, not inappropriate, but just "boring" to them. I'm looking for a book that relates the strength of women and their place in history. Maybe I'll write it myself, and then I'll have the book I want. :)
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is a heck of a good story. You could really see the research behind this novell. Although I think it's missing some plot here and there, it still was a quick and fun read. Opend up to a lot of thoughts about racism, family and friends. Big plus for really littel romantic sub plot. If you like WWII story's and kick ass, you will enjoy this book.
Aryana Parmar
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I would have found this book if it weren't for ELA, but tbh I enjoyed it. It was a great read and definitely made me want to cry at some points. This was a great historical fiction book and I think it's definitely a worthwhile read.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a beautiful story.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Ida Mae Jones is a young black girl living in Louisiana. Ever since she was a little girl and her father showed her how to fly, she has wanted to be a pilot. The only problem is it’s 1940, and discrimination against both blacks and women is very strong. When her brother goes off and joins the military, she is very upset. Then she learns about the program that the US Army has formed, called the WASP: Women Airforce Service Pilots. Ida Mae happens to have very light skin for a black girl, so she ...more
Nov 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cover-love
Sherri L. Smith’s ‘Flygirl’ is definitely going on my 2010 favourite’s list. I’m also counting it as one of my all-time favourite Young Adult reads. . . heck, it’s a favourite book all round.

The book opens in December 1941, on the day that Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese. Not long after the attack the US army develop the WASP program - Women Airforce Service Pilots. Twenty-year-old Ida Mae Jones dreams of the sky. Her dearly-departed Daddy taught her to fly for crop dusting. . . but Ida
May 29, 2013 rated it liked it
I was expecting to really, really love this book, but as it turns out, I feel that I can only give it three stars. The rating is probably closer to three stars and a half, though.

Everything about this book should be fantastic. It’s about a young girl called Ida Mae, who has wanted to fly ever since her father took her up in his Jenny when she was little. Her chance comes as World War Two takes hold of the country, and she’s suddenly shoved out of her comfortable home life in Slidell, Louisana, a
In my humble opinion
Lovers of history, especially those starved for stories of diversity and perseverance, should be pleased with this book.

Ida Mae Jones is a light-skinned black woman from Louisiana who would rather stop breathing then stop flying. But in 1940's America, blacks have to go north to Chicago to get their pilot licenses (like her father did) and hardly anyone will give a license to a woman. With two strikes against her and rations on fuel for the war effort, Ida Mae has been grounded.

When the opportun
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: Flygirl, by Sherri L. Smith 2 36 Apr 27, 2019 07:50PM  
Play Book Tag: Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith - 4 stars 5 19 Jan 16, 2019 04:50PM  
Joe Flesher 5 1 2 Oct 29, 2018 12:57PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Chains (Seeds of America, #1)
  • Uprising
  • Mare's War
  • The Rock and the River (The Rock and the River, #1)
  • The Next Great Jane
  • Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller
  • A Time to Dance
  • Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two
  • Code Name Verity
  • Forge (Seeds of America, #2)
  • Tumbling
  • Mary Slessor: Forward into Calabar
  • Forgotten Memories
  • Jump Into the Sky
  • Questions I Want to Ask You
  • 政宗くんのリベンジ 2 [Masamune-kun no Revenge #2]
  • Thrown for a Curve (Perfect Fit, #2)
  • Madeleine L'Engle: The Wrinkle in Time Quartet (LOA #309): A Wrinkle in Time / A Wind in the Door / A Swiftly Tilting Planet / Many Waters
See similar books…
Sherri L. Smith is the award-winning author of YA novels LUCY THE GIANT, SPARROW, HOT SOUR SALTY SWEET, FLYGIRL and ORLEANS. In October 2015, she makes her middle grade debut with THE TOYMAKER’S APPRENTICE from G.P. Putnam and Sons for Penguin Random House.

Sherri has worked in film, animation, comic books and construction. Her books have been listed as Amelia Bloomer, American Library Association

Articles featuring this book

  Kids these days! Protesting injustice, sassing their elders, and sometimes saving the world. So...pretty much like kids during any other...
85 likes · 25 comments
“I wish the army had taught us how to navigate feelings as easily as they did a starless night sky.” 12 likes
“If you're colored, you get the short end of the stick. If you're a woman, you get the short end of the stick. So what do we get for being colored and women?” 8 likes
More quotes…