Flygirl (update)

I have never ever wanted to learn to fly, yet Sheri L. Smith‘s Flygirl almost had me calling up flight schools.1 Ida Mae Jones lives to fly. So much so that she passes as a white woman in order to become a WASP during World War II. The book is about race, class, gender, about friendship, obsession (for flying), love, and family.

Cut for mild spoilerage:

Because Flygirl is about someone passing even it’s quieter moments are tense: there’s always the fear of discovery. What will happen to Ida Mae if she’s discovered passing in Texas in the 1940s? Nothing good. The passing narrative means that this beautiful book is also a thriller.

It’s a book where female friendship is upfront and centre, which always makes me happy. The portrayal of the growing bonds between of Ida Mae, Patsy and Lily is joyous and believable and strong.

Most of all I love Ida Mae. I am suffering from a MAJOR character crush. I cried at the end just because the book was over. I wanted the book to be about ten times as long so it could follow Ida Mae’s life until she dies. I rarely feel that way about books. I’m not a demander of sequels. But this time I’d like at least ten more books about Ida Mae Jones.

Run out and grab this book right now. Then hurry back here I want to talk to other peoples about it.

I am on an incredible winning streak with books at the moment.2 I also just finished Black Water Rising by Attica Locke which is a very impressive crime debut. Also highly recommended.

Updated: If you want to stay unspoiled be careful reading the comments.

  1. I suspect you need to know how to drive a car before you move on to planes. Not that I actually want to learn to fly or drive a car for that matter. Nasty smelly things. []
  2. I guess it’s to counteract my dreadful sports karma. []


  1. Jodie on #

    Not going to read the rest because of spoilers but I just wanted to say yay this book arrived today and I’m so excited to read it! Also love, love you blog (and thanks for turning me on to Sarah’s lj.

  2. marrije on #

    I think it’s pretty much baloney that you need to be able to drive a car before you can take flying lessons. So do not let them hold you back if you really want to learn how to fly!

  3. marrije on #

    (which you don’t) *tut-tuts at self for not reading well*

  4. Rene on #

    Oh, man, I loved this book. I loved loved loved Ida Mae, and, like you, when the book ended I wanted nothing more than a sequel rightnowimmediately. I hope she writes another one with Ida Mae. (Although if not, I’ll be happy to be able to reread Flygirl.)

    The friendships were all so wonderfully written. *trying to be non-spoilery here* The moment where she realized that there was one person she could have told her secret just about broke my heart.

  5. Nif on #


    As an indie bookseller, it warms my heart whenever someone links to IndieBound when describing a book. Thank you.

    As a light-skinned biracial African American woman, the issue of passing hits home, so I’m quite intrigued.

    Wonder when it will be out in paper? Maybe I’ll have to get it anyway.

  6. Justine on #

    Marrije: I don’t have much affinity with engines. They’re just not my thing.

    Rene: Yes! Also OMG! Also there was much weeping.

    Nif: You will love Flygirl. I guarantee it.

  7. Doret on #

    I really enjoyed Flygirl. Loved the bond Ida Mae had with her two friends. Black Water Rising is a really good mystery. Its a must read for Lehane and Pelecano’s fans

    Justine, if you ever get a chance check out
    Trading Dreams at Midnight by Diane McKinney Whetstone. I loved this book. It had me crying in the cafe. Some books should come with warning labels.

  8. MissAttitude on #

    I loved this book and I demand a sequel as well! I’m actually not a fan of the ending just because I wanted to know about what happens next, but I don’t think a sequel is forthcoming. Boo =/
    Flygirl made me want to learn how to fly, but I agree learning how to drive would be best to learn first (i’m not a fan of driving right now, unless i’m on clear open roads which is a rarity in the city, suprise suprise).

  9. Caroline Mills on #

    Sounds like a great book. The premise is similar to “Something Worth Doing”, a short story by Elizabeth Wein in Firebirds Soaring, about a girl who poses as her brother to fly in WWII – also recommended.

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