Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith. (Grades 7+)
Ida Mae Jones loves her family and she loves her friends, but above all else Ida Mae loves to fly. The problem? Because she's a woman and because she's black, she's not allowed to fly. When the US enters World War II and her brother goes off to serve in the military, Ida Mae is determined to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). So she fakes a pilot's license and "passes" for white. But the rigors of flight school are hard enough without the constant worry that someone will realize she's black. Ida Mae's risking everything to follow her passion and help her country.
I appreciate any historical novel that deals with an interesting period or aspect of history. I had never read anything about the WASP program before and that was interesting enough. Add to that Ida Mae's struggle with the Jim Crow laws and you get a richly layered historical novel that I just didn't want to put down.
Ida Mae's living in the south in the 1940s, a time when blacks have their place and there are disastrous consequences if they don't know it. Ida's father was really light-skinned due to conscious planning on the part of his ancestors and Ida Mae has inherited this light skin. She's light enough that she can pass for white, but if she's found out she'll almost certainly be lynched. The flight training is in Texas, a dangerous place to try to pass.
The premise was intriguing and the characters interesting. I'd highly recommed this one to fans of historical fiction.
Read interviews with Sherri L. Smith at Shelf Elf, The Five Randoms, and Bildungsroman. Also check out reviews at Finding Wonderland, Presenting Lenore, Reading Rants!, Reviewer X, and A Patchwork of Books. Check out Sherri L. Smith's website and Ida Mae's Myspace page (hehehe).