Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sherri L Smith, FLYGIRL

An engaging historical YA about a black girl from 1940s Louisiana, Ida Mae Jones, who's light-skinned enough to pass for white and who learned how to fly a crop-duster from her father. After Pearl Harbor, when the Americans join the war, she wants to apply for the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots), ferrying and testing aircraft. But she has to pass not only her qualifying pilot tests in the very Jim Crow town of Sweetwater, Texas but also the "white" test and the "woman" test (in a wholly male Army). Some clumsy bits early on, with scenes that feel a bit inserted to "show" the conflict between her old life and new, vis-a-vis a black boy she knew in school and her best friend Jolene, who is too black to pass. But once Ida Mae reaches Sweetwater, Texas, the story rolls out wonderfully, with Ida Mae courageously trying to found her identity on what she does (fly) rather than her skin color.

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