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The Flight Girls


The Flight Girls

THE FLIGHT GIRLS focuses on a female flight program, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), that operated during World War II. Created to work alongside the military but not allowed to join the military because they were female, the WASPs worked tirelessly to ferry military planes from one location to another, often enduring criticism and derision along the way.

Noelle Salazar creates the fictional character of Audrey Coltrane to serve as her protagonist and relay the story of the work and sacrifices these women made during the war. Audrey hails from Texas and has flown planes since she was young. Eager to escape her mother’s matchmaking efforts, she enrolls in a program to train military pilots in Hawaii soon after the war breaks out in Europe. During her time there, Audrey forges close female friendships, as well as developing a relationship with an officer, Lieutenant James Hart. During a training mission, she and a fellow training pilot (slightly improbably) become entangled in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which decimates the U.S. bases in Hawaii.

"THE FLIGHT GIRLS engages the reader when the story is focused on the female pilots and the work they accomplish both in Hawaii and back in the United States."

Following the bombardment, the training school is closed, and Audrey heads home to Texas to grieve for those lost in the attack. Bored at home and eager to experience the freedom she had in Hawaii, she enrolls with the Women Airforce Service Pilots and begins her work with that group. As in Hawaii, Audrey bonds with other WASP members during their training and subsequent posts, and while pining away for Lieutenant Hart, she becomes enmeshed in drama related to a teaching instructor.

THE FLIGHT GIRLS engages the reader when the story is focused on the female pilots and the work they accomplish both in Hawaii and back in the United States. The pilot training program in Hawaii during the early years of WWII provided opportunities for women that had not previously existed, and their stories will appeal to readers of historical fiction and those who like learning about lesser-known tales of the war. Similarly, the WASP program ferried every type of military plane all over the continental United States during the war, providing an invaluable service. Salazar brings these tales to life in an entertaining manner, allowing the reader to understand the important role they played in the war effort while also highlighting the many challenges they faced.

Salazar also successfully depicts Audrey’s female relationships and the bonds she and her friends develop as they learn to rely on each other while frequently enduring criticism and ridicule from those they encounter while doing their jobs. The war’s death count was enormous and did not spare the WASPs, and Salazar realistically weaves those losses into her tale. Where the story stagnates is Audrey’s love life. From the beginning, her relationship with Lieutenant Hart is awkward, unfulfilling and frankly a little baffling. As the years pass and Hart heads to Europe to fight in the war, their story becomes even less compelling, and Audrey’s relationship choices continue to hinder the novel instead of add to it.

Historical fiction fans will enjoy learning about the WASP program and the way these women contributed to the war effort, but may be less enamored of portions of Audrey’s personal life.

Reviewed by Cindy Burnett on August 2, 2019

The Flight Girls
by Noelle Salazar

  • Publication Date: July 2, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mira
  • ISBN-10: 0778369226
  • ISBN-13: 9780778369226