Through NetGalley I was provided a copy of this book by Red Engine Press for the purpose of reading and reviewing it. Although it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
Set during World War II, this novel follows the paths of Shirley Maxwell and her three friends, Emmie, Delores and Mags. All of them have flight experience, and due to the shortage of available male pilots, they are recruited as part of the WASPs (Women’s Airforce Service Pilots) program to ferry planes from the factory in Ohio to an airbase in California.
Facing hostility from traditionally-minded civilians as well as military personnel concerned the ladies are taking jobs from able-bodied men, the four forge a strong bond. This helps them face with dignity and strength the challenges ahead.
Along the way, one of the four dies, another is burned badly, and a third contracts polio. Each finds love in some manner with varying results. Most of all, they just keep plugging along in the face of adversity.
First and foremost, this is a story of strength of will and character. Even though each of the four ladies has significant flight time under her respective belt, they are faced with men and women who believe they are wasting their time or not filling a traditional female role. Of course, there are also men in the Army who view the women as, at the very least, an infringement on their territory or, at the worst, undeserving women who are taking pilot jobs from more skilled males.
This is also a story of growth and development. While most characters demonstrate this, none do so more than the protagonist, Shirley. The story is told in the first person from her point of view. While this can be difficult to pull off when it comes to including details the narrator may not be aware of, Faulkner pulls this off nicely.
Finally, I really enjoyed this as a historical novel because it was, ashamedly, a part of history of which I was unaware. Thanks to Faulkner I will dig into the history of these brave women even more.
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)