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In my last post I introduced a new series called Book Pairings, where I share two books to pair together to expand your knowledge and enhance your reading experience. Check out the first book pairing I suggested here.
For my next pairing, I was inspired when I read a review of the recent nonfiction work Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History (published on August 7, 2018). I was immediately reminded of a novel I read that also featured female pilots, particularly during World War II, called Code Name Verity. While these books are very different in a lot of ways, both feature female pilots and the challenges they faced trying to be taken seriously as pilots. Female pilots have been largely overlooked as a part of history in general and in World War II, something that both of these books look to correct in their own ways.
Book #1: Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History
by Keith O’Brien
For fans of: Hidden Figures, badass women throughout history.
“Between the world wars, no sport was more popular, or more dangerous, than airplane racing. Thousands of fans flocked to multi‑day events, and cities vied with one another to host them. The pilots themselves were hailed as dashing heroes who cheerfully stared death in the face. Well, the men were hailed. Female pilots were more often ridiculed than praised for what the press portrayed as silly efforts to horn in on a manly, and deadly, pursuit. Fly Girls recounts how a cadre of women banded together to break the original glass ceiling: the entrenched prejudice that conspired to keep them out of the sky.
O’Brien weaves together the stories of five remarkable women: Florence Klingensmith, a high‑school dropout who worked for a dry cleaner in Fargo, North Dakota; Ruth Elder, an Alabama divorcee; Amelia Earhart, the most famous, but not necessarily the most skilled; Ruth Nichols, who chafed at the constraints of her blue‑blood family’s expectations; and Louise Thaden, the mother of two young kids who got her start selling coal in Wichita. Together, they fought for the chance to race against the men — and in 1936 one of them would triumph in the toughest race of all.
Like Hidden Figures and Girls of Atomic City, Fly Girls celebrates a little-known slice of history in which tenacious, trail-blazing women braved all obstacles to achieve greatness.”
Book #2: Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein
For fans of: Historical fiction, war stories, female friendship, tearjerkers.
“Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.”
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, the sequel to Code Name Verity, also about a female pilot during WWII.