Monday, February 25, 2013

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly.
Ida's daddy was a pilot, and when he took her flying, she never wanted to come down again. But after his death, the sky is off-limits to a young black woman such as herself. When America enters World War II, the Army forms the WASP -- Women Airforce Service Pilots -- and Ida has a chance to join, if she's willing to use her light skin to pass as a white girl. She wants to fly more than anything, but Ida soon learns that denying one's identity and family is a heavy burden. Can she fulfill her dream without herself?

~Print copy, 271 pages
Publsihed: 2010 (copyright 2008) by Speak

I can't seem to find the place to begin about this novel.

I came into this novel expecting the author to be one of those authors who heavy-handedly dole out political lessons on racism and sexism. Not that I am for either of those; indeed, I am so against racism and sexism that I feel no more words should have to be said on it, and certainly not to me.

But this novel was so much more than that. This wasn't a lesson, or some fantasy adventure story, or some essay. But it tackled some important lessons on the topic of The Future and of the very definition of black and white and man and woman, and I am still a little bowled over.

How to define this novel in my own words: Ida Mae wants to be a pilot. But the war starts, and her brother enlists, and she's stuck at home, cleaning houses and saving bacon fat for the war effot. So when her little brother hands her a newspaper article for the WASP, giving her hope for a future in flying, she takes it.

This is a story of one woman, searching for not just a future, meted out to her by society; but for her future, the role she was born to play.

Honestly speaking, I cried at parts in this novel. It brings you close to the heart of the story, the way all the best books are written. I felt for the characters; I felt for Ida, I felt for her friends in the WASP, I felt for everything and everyone.

I finished this book in two days. Actually, I literally finished it about an hour ago. This isn't some fantasy book like Narnia or Eragon, where you're a little distanced and feeling for a wole cast of characters and their meanings; Flygirl gives you the perspective of one colored woman, fighting against a world that's intent to drag her down, and you begin to love her friends as she loves her friends.

Another thing to note is the tone, the colloquialism, of the novel. Not that I've ever been to Louisiana, but it sounds plausibly Deep-Southern-Authentic. A good writing style, casual and flowing yet still digs deep to the meaning.

Overall, I loved this novel. I kind of hated it, too, for the way it made me cry. But that makes me love it all the more, because there are so few novels that can do so. Five stars, definitely.


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