Mary Browning has spent a lifetime keeping secrets. Living alone and widowed, her one enjoyment in life is her weekly senior citizens’ writers’ group meetings. Everything changes on her 87th birthday, though, when 15-year-old Elyse joins their group. Shortly thereafter, Mary sees an article in the paper: Congress is awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to members of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, and a picture of Mary with two other “fly girls” is underneath the headline. Mary decides to finally share the truth about her past and hires Elyse to type her memoir. Meanwhile, Elyse’s world is slowly falling apart. She overhears her parents fighting about divorce, her grandmother is ill, and her best friend is upset with her when Elyse gets paired with a popular boy at school for a project.
Spunky and charming from the start, Mary’s personality instantly pulled me into the story. Growing up, Mary struggles with her Jewish identity. Mary’s boyfriend is unable to get accepted into medical school because of the “Jewish quotas,” which leads to difficult choices for both of them. The Secrets of Flight is a coming-of-age story for Elyse and a second-chance story for Mary.
I would have preferred less teen angst and more focus on the “fly girls,” as I felt there was an overwhelming amount of problems falling on Elyse. However, the author elegantly weaves the narrative between past and present. The historical elements are well-researched, and all the characters were well-written. I enjoyed the chapter in which Mary and fellow pilots were forced into an emergency landing, and while walking outside at night, the women hope they won’t be arrested on charges of solicitation for wearing pants!
I’m a fan of “herstories” highlighting courageous women, and this emotionally-driven, captivating book provided a “girl power” thrill for me.
I read this as a reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. Review posted via their website at: https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-secrets-of-flight/
"Descendants of Avalon"
Released via Inklings Publishing
("The Forgotten" volume 2)
Reviewed and awarded the
2016 Indie Editor's Choice
by the Historical Novel Society.
Long listed for the Historical Novel Society 2017 Indie Award.
Goodreads profile at: https://www.goodreads.com/JElse