Blogger note before I get to this week's review: so I’m sure a lot of you saw all the really shitty things that took place on Twitter earlier this week, culminating with a complete sweetheart of a WOC author having to delete her verification and go private to avoid the insane amount of trolls and death threats that ended up thrown at her, all because she created two hashtags regarding diversity. The really screwed up part is that honestly as a white woman, I was able to avoid basically all of the drama and trolls, despite posting all over the hashtag. I did not encounter a single troll, guys, and I was being a helluva lot more salty than the author in question. Now, I can’t fix what happened to her (besides going on a Report & Block spree like none other through her mentions), but in honor of her, I want to strive to do my best to support diverse books even more from here on out, and in particular diverse books by women of color.
Thus my review this week of Sherri L. Smith’s FLYGIRL. I actually bought and reviewed it on Amazon over a year ago way back when I didn’t have a blog, but I figured it definitely deserved a blog feature all its own, too!
Because y’all this book was so SO good. It’s one of those books that I literally had only one complaint about: that it felt “too short” only because I would have kept reading for another 100k worth of words and been perfectly happy.
FLYGIRL centers on a part of WWII history I actually knew very little about but now want to research all of the things: that of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots. I was utterly immersed in all the historical details Smith wove into the story, until it felt like I was fighting my way through training with the WASPs. These amazing women put up with a ton of crap for wanting to be pilots, and even after the WASP was enacted by the Army still struggled with near non-existent funding, dilapidated airplanes, and ramshackle supplies and living quarters. And yet they persisted both because so many of them wanted to fly that desperately, and also because they were needed. And to hell with the men who said otherwise.
FLYGIRL’s heroine had it even harder than her fellow WASPS: Ida Mae is a black woman and has to pass for white or risk getting kicked out of the service all together. My heart broke for her during this book over and over, y’all. The way she had to hide that part of herself from her friends in the WASP program, the interactions she had with other black people while having to treat them like the other “whites” around her did. All of it was just painfully, beautifully written. Just stunning.
Aside from the gorgeous way Ida Mae was written, I really enjoyed all of the female friendships we got on the page both within the WASPs and back when Ida Mae is at home, as well. The women get to be women, flawed and lovely just as they are, and while there’s a definite competition during training, there’s very little of the stereotypical mean girl drama we often see portrayed in the media. I loved that we got to care for the other women as Ida Mae did.
Overall, I just loved this book. I’m not sure what else I can say about it now, beyond “You should totally read this!” I've had another one of Smith’s other books, ORLEANS, sitting in my TBR mountain too – can’t wait to sink my readerly teeth into that one!
Have any of y’all read FLYGIRL yet? What did you think? Let me know over on Twitter @C_L_McCollum