Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fly Girl

Just imagine. Imagine you are young, growing up in the 1940s in the southern United States. Now imagine that your brother has gone off to fight in the second Great War, and all you want to do is help him and bring him home. Imagine that you can fly with the best of them, and have been doing so for several years. But now imagine that you are a young woman. And imagine that, while you have a very light complexion, you are actually an African American woman. How would you help your brother? Would you risk everything to join an army that seems to think it has no place for you?

In Sherri L. Smith's novel Fly Girl we meet a girl facing just such a dilemma. Ida Mae Jones, though, decides to risk everything to try out for the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) in hopes of helping her brother fight the war and bring him home. She produces a counterfeit pilot's license, using one that her father had earned when he was still alive, and signs up for training. But for Ida Mae, the journey is not just about proving her worth as a female pilot and trying to rescue her brother; it's about hiding her true identity amongst some of the great friends whom she not only loves but trusts with her life.

While the history, relationships, and struggles in this book make it a quick and educational read, it will likely be the young adult female readers who take the most from this book. Ida Mae's struggles with herself as a female and an African American, fighting in a declared “man's war,” as well as her struggles with her relationships with her mother and her friends (new and old), really make this a book geared toward the growing and maturing female mind. This would likely be a great book to offer in both history and English classes at either the middle school or high school level, although it may be more effective as an independent reader choice. Fly Girl was definitely difficult to put down once started, as the story moved quickly and was filled with moments of suspense, laughter, and surprise.


Andra said...


The TV show Cold Case just had an episode about a WASP who was murdered. It was very interesting. Those women had to work twice as hard to gain the respect of the men during that time.

Is this novel fiction?


T. Arnold said...

There are so many aspects of WW2 that can be taught. I really like the plot of this book because it gives some info about the American side during the war. This book could also be used to discuss women and the army today. How have we as a society/country made progress in that regard? How are women still limited in the army or in other aspects of life?

Heather Hoffman said...


I LOVE Cold Case but I missed that episode! I'll have to look for it!

While the main character in the novel is fictitious, many of the events described in the novel, or the situations the characters find themselves in, are based on real events. I thought that the author did an excellent job of incorporating real situations into a work of fiction.

Thank you for your comment!

Marcella said...

I like this book because it would provide me an opportunity to cover some history as well as gender, and racial issues to make for a very interesting unit. Students need to be aware of how many individuals struggled in the past and it seems like this book can make it more relatable to students.

Marcella said...

This book seems like it would be great to discuss in a History or English class and it could be used to take about racial and/or gender issues. It also seems like it would be a great text to use to incorporate some multicultural education. If I were to teach it in my English class I would definitely cover some of the historical aspects in my unit as well as the racial and gender issues the time the book takes place and now.

Amy said...

I love WWII books so I will definitely have to put this on my list. Sounds like a great story being able to follow such an important person along her incredible journey, both internally and externally.

radcinbad said...

This sounds like a great read! I think the fact that this book touches on gender struggles, racial struggles, and historical cultural struggles is really interesting. I think Ida Mae's racial passing sounds most interesting and wonder who this all plays out in the novel. I think the sibling relationship expressed in the book sounds interesting too.
I also enjoyed your video, and look forward to picking up Fly Girl one day.