Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Genre: YA historical
Rep: Ownvoices, Black
Format: audiobook

I’ve had this book on my TBR for ages, but didn’t realize it was about a POC main character until I was looking for books for my reading challenge and it came up on a Goodreads list. Flygirl follows a young, light skinned, female pilot who has to give up flying at the start of WWII, as resources like fuel are redirected to the military. When a program to recruit female transport pilots (to deliver supplies and planes for the military to free up their male pilots for combat), Ida is quick to sign up, even though they don’t take black pilots. Forging her license, she doesn’t tell the recruiter that she’s not white; simply allows the woman to draw her own conclusions. Impressed by Ida’s manner, she offers her a position in training.

If the military finds out about the ruse, however, a court martial could be the least of her worries. Though she loves flying, staying in the military means denying her family and her heritage, but going back home to the Jim Crow south means denying every part of herself as an individual.

I loved this book from beginning to end. Ida is beautifully human in her choices, both good and bad; her mistakes, and her efforts to help others and improve the lot of Blacks who can’t pass the way she does. She risks life and limb every day she wakes up on base.

If you’re a fan of WWII narratives or books about women breaking glass ceilings, this is definitely a good book to pick up.

Saving Savannah by Tonya Bolden

Genre: YA historical
Rep: Ownvoices, Black

This was the first book I checked out for my Authors of Color Reading Challenge. Yes, I am finally caught up enough on my reviews to start in on the challenge I set for myself in June. -_-

Saving Savannah follows a young black woman from an affluent family in the early 1920s. Savannah is bored and feeling caged in. She knows there is more to the world than the teas and social events her mother arranges, but she doesn’t know how to get involved in them. She reminded me of a lot of ’20s era main characters I’ve seen, including Bright Young Things, Vixen, A Beautiful Poison, Brimstone, and The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. The difference is that all of those main characters are white. Even the petty, spoiled, cowardly best friend could be pulled from those pages.

After about twenty pages or so, the story takes a sharp left. Savannah begins volunteering at a vocational school for young black women, and is slowly drawn into a world of political upheaval she was previously sheltered from. As 1919’s “Red Summer” consumes her entire Washington D.C. neighborhood and the surrounding area, Savannah has to come to terms with the hypocrisy in her own life. Fueled by guilt, she tries to use her privilege to help the new friends and allies she’s made, hoping to save at least one life. 

While I liked the overall story, this book wasn’t really to my taste. The writing was very choppy, broken up into one or two page sections that made it hard for me to really dive in and consume the story. However, I am glad I read it as it showed several different perspectives I was previously unfamiliar with, including prejudices that exist within the Black community.

It also serves once again as a reminder: Everything is Wilson’s fault.



Waterfall by Lisa T Bergen

Genre: YA historical
Secondary genre: romance/adventure
Format read: audiobook
Series: River of Time vol. 1
CW: violence
Rating: planchet-3

My mom and I do not have similar taste in books. Her favorite author is Nora Roberts. I would gleefully fire all of her books into space. I like reading creepy books with fierce women. My mom “doesn’t get it.” If it isn’t in the mass market romance section at Half Price books, she basically doesn’t read it.

So I was shocked when she recommended a book to me that was not only young adult, but not horrible.

I used to live in Italy (Florence) so I tend to be drawn toward books set in the country, especially in the 1500-1600s (Renaissance art was my area of study).

Gabie and her younger sister, Lia, get dragged after their mother, an archaeologist, to the hills outside of Sienna to study an Etruscan burial site. While hiding from Italian authorities bent on taking over the dig, Gabie is somehow sucked back in time to the 1300s, where she’s nearly murdered, then is rescued, kidnapped and mistaken for a spy all in one go. Meanwhile, she has no idea where Lia has disappeared to. Is she sill in present day? Has she also been pulled back in time and caught in the heat of battle? Or worse?

Determined to find her sister and get home, Gabie weaves lie after lie to avoid telling her captors-turned-hosts the truth, afraid of what the consequences might be, even if someone believes her. Though these lies, she becomes swept up in the messy politics of the time and era, disrupting treaties and arranged marriages in the process.

I thought this book was great fun from a history perspective, however I did find the romance predictable and I did not like Gabie’s love interest. In my notes, I nicknamed him “Gladiator Ken,” because through about half the book that’s how much personality he had. There were actually two other people I would have preferred to see her with that were not only more dimensional as characters but less…Controlling? Bossy? Misogynistic? Annoying? Take your pick.

I’m still on the fence on whether or not I want to read the next two books. I have them saved in my Overdrive wishlist, but haven’t checked them out yet. What do you think? Have you read them?