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Wings ~ Karl Friedrich

April 30, 2011

WINGS by Karl Friedrich ISBN 9781590135709
Genre: Adult Fiction/Historical
Publisher: McBooks Press
304 pages
ISBN: 9781590135709
Source: Publisher via Librarything

Bland farm life in East Texas has nearly run Sally Ketchum into the ground. With a missing mother and a  drunk father, there isn’t a lot to live for. There isn’t, at least, until the day Tex arrives and takes her flying. The day she sails up into the heavens, is the day that she knows that there’s more to life than the worn out pastures she’s always known. She and Tex fall in love and climb the skies, barnstorming their way through life, until tragedy leaves Sally alone, yet again.

At the end of her rope, Sally can barely believe it when Uncle Sam and his grand ideas step in, inviting her to join the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). Though it’s a civilian corps, their main goal is to transport planes to free up young men to hit the front line. It’s about as close as she ever dreamed she’d get to adventure.

Sally joins a crowd of eager young women at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, TX, including rambunctious and vivacious, if slightly obnoxious, lingerie model, Dixie. The two become fast, albeit very unlikely friends.

Sally’s life takes an upturn as she steps up to defend her country. Little to her forewarning, though, it’s not the Germans she’ll battle against but hired gun, Ira Waterman, who represents all of the XY’s in congress who would rather see the WASP shut down than aide their young men with help from home.

Friedrich’s narrative is at once startlingly honest and fresh while proving to be jaded and wise. Knowing little to nothing about the WASP, going in to the book, I have to say, it’s become one of my favorite research points in U.S. history, currently. I find myself falling in love with this time period, the more I read about it. Friedrich does a bang up job of getting both male and female fears and hopes about both sexes in the service at the time and for that, he should be commended.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2011 12:03 pm

    Oh, I am so glad that you loved this one! It sounds like a great book, and I loved your review!

  2. Chelsea permalink
    May 1, 2011 12:35 pm

    Sounds fascinating! I’m especially looking forward to this lingerie model WASP pilot! My grandma was a WASP in her teens, and while she doesn’t remember much anymore, some of her greatest stories have to do with her WASP experiences. Can’t wait to track this one down – thanks for a great review!

  3. May 1, 2011 3:38 pm

    Hello. I’m the author of Wings: A Novel of World War II Flygirls. I discovered your review on Goodreads, and then it disappeared. I don’t know if you meant to take it down, or if some glitch caused it to disappear. At any rate, I want to thank you for the complimentary review, and I’m glad my book gave you a good time. That was one of my goals in writing it.

    I had a lot of help with this yarn. More than one hundred women, many strangers, got a peek as I was writing the manuscript: sometimes just a few pages, sometimes chapters. I remember being in a restaurant, talking to a friend about the story, and noticed that five or six middle-aged women at the adjoining table were listening. I whipped out some chapters and handed them over; and watched in awe as they gang-read my book! Then I got married and my wife steered things along with her insights about women; and finally my editor, a woman, greatly helped things along. Writing from a woman’s viewpoint didn’t come easily for me.

    The majority of the things that happen in the book really did happen to the WASP. I interviewed two of them before I started writing, and I read a number of histories written by them, and I spoke with men who’d served with them. There’s a very famous photograph of WASP Elizabeth L. Gardner sitting at the controls of an airplane: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_Airforce_Service_Pilots. The airplane is a B-26 Martin Marauder, which had a reputation for munching on air crews (down in Tampa, Fl, where they were trained, there was a headline: One A Day In Tampa Bay!). But there Miss Gardner sits, cool and confident as if she’s about to take the family Ford down the street for a loaf of bread. That’s what the WASP represent to me.

    Again, many thanks. – Karl

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