G. P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin Group: NY, 2008.
The story follows a young black woman through WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) training and assignments. Having learned to fly with her father on their farm, Ida Mae Jones must help the war effort (WWII) in the most meaningful way she can.
Besides the in depth description of the women pilots' lives, Ida Mae's story depicts a young woman's struggle with passing as white. Her situation is illegal, not to mention a rejection of her family and lying to all her close friends. She feels like she is two different people. People whose paths cannot cross. Do her motives justify her actions? How can she continue, knowing that she cannot share her amazing accomplishments with people back home or her true identity with those around her?
I loved this book and didn't want to put it down. Ida Mae Jones is fictional, but she is so real her story seems biographical. It wasn't until I read the author's note that I knew for sure she wasn't real. She is a great character - intelligent, independent, adventurous, empathetic, loyal, with quiet strength. If you're looking for strong female characters, she is one of the best. WWII is discussed with a different perspective than usual, and the treatment of both the women's and black issues is handled well.
In the first part of a series of interviews on race issues for America.gov, Sherri L. Smith talks about the issue of passing, not just as white.
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