What a treat to have a couple of days at home with time to read. This morning I read FLYGIRL by Sherri Smith (Putnam, 2009). Meet Ida Mae Jones, a young woman who learned to fly from her father. Ida Mae has plans to get away to Chicago where she can obtain her pilot's license; there no one will deny her simply because she is "colored." But the U.S. is drawn into World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Ida Mae's brother Thomas enlists and makes her promise to stay home to help the rest of the family. When the WASP, Women Airforce Service Pilots, are formed, Ida Mae decides this is her chance to fly. She creates a license from her father's old one and heads off to join up. She will have to pass as white in order to become a member of this group of women who will train to fly in the war effort. It is dangerous, but Ida Mae is determined to succeed. She must prove to herself and to others that women, even women of color, are capable of serving and flying.
It is difficult not to be pulled into the story of a woman determined to fight against racism and sexism all in one fell swoop. Ida Mae and her comrades Lily and Patsy are an indomitable trio even in the face of tragedy. While there is no evidence to suggest that women of color joined WASP, Smith makes it entirely plausible for the reader.