“Ellen R said: 4 stars
As one of the few female WAF pilots in 1943 England Maddie has been flying ferry missions shuttling pilots, spies and supplies to far flung British airfields for months. She has learned in the cockpits how to fly unfamiliar planes at a moment's notice and has become a skilled navigator finding her targets without maps as the danger of being shot down by the Germans and their confiscating maps is enormous. Queenie is Maddie's best friend and has learned valuable war skills as well; she is adept as an inerrogator since she speaks German and French fluently and has been on several espionage missions into Nazi-occupied France. Inveitably Maddie and Queenie are teamed up for a secret flight to France where Maddie is to drop Queenie and return to England. After being hit by groundfire Maddie realizes that she will not be able to land and she forces Queenie to parachute into the darkness above France.
The novel is written as a diary/confession by Queenie as she is held prisoner by the Nazis after she is captured in a small French town. She tells of her friendship with Maddie as she fills page after page with their history and information about British planes and secret codes. Queenie is tortured endlesslly, starved and humiliated and she knows that once the Nazi commander learns everything he can from her she will either be executed or sent to a concentration camp. Hoping to prolong her life she spins her tales on paper day after day.
This is such a wonderful story of friendship between two very strong, brave young women during an unimaginably horrendous situation. There is quite a surprising twist in the middle of the novel and the ending is just stunning. It is a YA novel but certainly a very mature one. I enjoyed it very much.
JoLene R said: 3.5 stars
I should put a disclaimer on this review. First, I was really looking forward to this book, so I had high expectations AND I had a cold while reading it which may have clouded my judgement. As many have said, this is a tough book to review because of spoilers. It is the story of two girls, one a Scottish aristocrat and the other a poor girl who loves to fly. They become the best of friends after being thrown together as each is trying to help Britain during WWII.
This is a well written book and I enjoyed the period details. I think it captured the spirit of the day with everyone coming together during wartime to contribute what they could to the cause. The author is a pilot and I think that the passages about flying are particularly compelling. My biggest beef with the book that the friendship between the two girls was almost like "insta-love" in romance books. I would have preferred a bit more showing of their initial relationship and less telling ("This is my best friend"). I do realize that in dire circumstances relationships are amplified -- but this is just how I felt reading it.
I normally do not re-read books, but this one may actually be a candidate because I also found one of the characters annoying to the point of distraction. I think that it would be less distracting in a re-read because of knowing some reasons why. Ultimately, I think that my expectations were a bit too high and my tolerance low (due to being sick), but it was a good, well written book with some surprising twists. If you enjoy the WWII period and like books where woman are taking an active role in helping to fight the war, then you should certainly pick this one up.”