A thrilling, but little-known story that begs to be told. The book is at once informative and entertaining.+ -School Library Journal
During World War II, a light-skinned African American girl "passes" for white in order to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots.
The Washington Post
Smith (Lucy the Giant) brings a gripping perspective to bear upon a lesser-known piece of America's past: during WWII, the government recruited women pilots to fly non-combat missions, e.g., ferrying planes. Driven by a desire to fly and wanting to help her enlisted brother, Ida Mae decides to pass as white so she can join the program. The author has an expert grasp on her subject, and readers will learn plenty about the Women Airforce Service Pilots, from their impractical uniforms to the dangerous missions they flew without reward. Ida Mae's unique point of view gives her special insight into the often poor treatment of women: when a pilot friend gets frustrated by a stunt they are asked to perform, Ida realizes, "Lily's just finding out what I've been living with my whole life. She's never known what it was like to be hobbled by somebody else's rules." Key scenes demonstrate how much Ida has sacrificed by passing, as when her much darker mother visits her on Christmas and, à la Imitation of Life, poses as the family housekeeper. Although this book feels constructed to educate, readers will find the lesson well crafted. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Readers first meet 18-year-old Ida Mae Jones, a Louisiana girl who longs to be a pilot, in December 1941, on the eve of America's entrance into World War II. She is pretty and smart, but she has two huge strikes against her. She is black in an America where racism holds sway, and a competent pilot in an America in which she is denied her license because she is a woman. Smith explores these two significant topics and does a wonderful job of melding the two themes in one novel. Ida Mae is a likable character who is torn by the need to pass for white and fake a license in order to fulfill her dream. Readers learn a great deal about what it must have been like to be African American in the South during this period, as well as about the Women Airforce Service Pilots, WASP, a civilian group that performed jobs that freed male pilots for other things. The women's close friendships and the danger, excitement, and tragedy of their experience create a thrilling, but little-known story that begs to be told. The book is at once informative and entertaining. In the end, readers are left to wonder what Ida Mae Jones will do with the rest of her life.-Carol Jones Collins, Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ
What People are saying about this
-A dynamic, heartfelt novel.+ -The Washington Post
-A thrilling, but little-known story that begs to be told. The book is at once informative and entertaining.+ -School Library Journal
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