“What is a use of a book, without pictures or conversations?” I would first like to thank TLC Book Tours for having me be a part of the tour and McBooks Press for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The first time I read anything about the WWII Fly Girls aka Women’s Airforce Service Pilots is when I read the YA novel Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith. I love the novel and the true story of the girls who not only helped the soldiers fighting overseas but also did their part on the American Homefront. So when I so the novel WINGS was available to review on the TLC Book Tour, I jumped at the chance to read it. If you’ve read FlyGirl, WINGS is similar in scope but a much different story. It’s about a lady named Sally Ketchum who was born on a dirt-poor farm in West Texas. Sally loves to fly and was trained by her boyfriend, Tex. They are barnstormers. What’s a barnstormer, you ask? Barnstormers were stunt pilots who performed aerial tricks over farms during the 1920s. But when Tex dies in an plane accident, Sally takes it upon herself to the turn the tragedy into a positive. She joins the WASPS to learn to fly military aircraft for non-combat missions during WWII. To learn more about the WASPS, check out my review of Flygirl.
Sally meets a variety of characters on her way to the Avenger school in Sweetwater, Texas. Fortunately, she’s not far from home, even though it feels like it. Sally is definitely easy to tease and can sometimes be a bit of a hothead and takes things the wrong way. Yet she can stand up for herself and doesn’t let anyone push her around. Sally definitely feels guilt over Tex’s death because she was in the plane with him, along with her father’s failures and her mother’s death. She feels like she has something to prove and faces her fears head on.
“We’re all mad here.” I especially love the character, Dixie Beaumont, a flamboyant Southern gal yearning to spread her wings and fly. Dixie is no-nonsense and has a sharp-witted tongue. She’s not only interested in learning to fly, but possibly snagging a male catch at the school. Sally makes some enemies and “frenimes” at Avenger. One of the girls she clashes with often is Geri Delaney, a rich girl who often mirrors Sally in ferocity, but can be a bit of a snob. Another interesting girl at the school is Twila Tschude, a brainiac who studied aeronautical engineering in college.
But no one is more intriguing than Beau Baynard, a flight instructor and aspiring novelist who captures Sally’s heart. He quickly get under her skin and the two connect romantically. He reminded me of Tyrone Power. However, Tex remains in Sally’s mind and heart throughout the novel. He felt like a spirit guiding her along. The flight instructors at Avenger push the girls hard in learning to fly. However, many put them down which forces the girls to try to overcome stereotypes.
WINGS is told in an easy-going natural voice that captured my interest from the first page to the last. It is extremely well-researched and when Sally was flying, I felt like I was in the cockpit with her. There is at no point did I not feel like I was reading about the 1940s.
WINGS, also, has some surprises along the way and the ending is satisfactory and poignant. The characters are rich and imaginative and come to life off the page.
I love the cover, too! It’s so feminine and very retro. The cover perfectly suits the story inside the pages.
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