Forgotten Fiction: The Flight Girls

Savannah Young, Staff Writer

Do you ever walk into Barnes and Noble, looking for a random—but interesting—book to find for your upcoming literature project? Well, if you’re anything like me, you go in with your mind set on one book and walk out with another.  

This week on Forgotten Fiction, we’ll be exploring Noelle Salazar’s “The Flight Girls”, which tells the story of Audrey Coltrane, a female pilot in the days of World War 2. (Credit: Savannah Young)

That was the case when I found The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar. It was perched on the top shelf, jumbled in with a variety of other books. Its cover, picturing three women in flight uniforms, instantly reminded me of the 1940s, one of my favorite decades to read about. And, surely enough, the book was set during World War 2. 

Without hesitation, I picked the book up, quickly skimming the blurb before eagerly rushing over to my family to show them what I found. And it wasn’t just the book I found that day, it was Ms. Coltrane and the “flight girls”, too.  

If you’d like to kick off your week with even more “Forgotten Fiction”, check back next Monday at noon for my review of Howard Fast’s April Morning, the story of “a young man’s baptism by fire during the bloody battle of Lexington”. 

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Spoiler-free Review 

I had fairly high expectations of this book from the moment I snatched it off the shelf. After I scanned through the blurb, I already had an idea in my head for the plot of the book. However, the things I had expected didn’t wind up happening. Most of them, at least. 

This version of The Flight Girls, released for the large print edition, gives a visual into the premise of the novel. (Credit: Noelle Salazar)

If I had to describe this book in three words, I’d say that it’s charming, empowering, and slow. There are 368 pages of female empowerment, romance, love between friends, and chapters that could have been condensed. And, ironically, other parts that deserved more attention.  

This book features an amazing cast of characters. And the best thing about them is that none of them are stereotypical in any way. They’re truly unique characters that you won’t find in another book. From Ruby to Carol Ann, you’ll fall in love with each character in this novel, I’m sure of it.  

While the beginning (first 99 pages) and epilogue (363 and onwards) are amazingly well written, I can’t help but feel as though the middle is dry and, most times, slow. Sure, you get introduced to amazing characters such as Carol Ann and Nola, but it’s not as satisfying as the beginning and ending.  

All in all, I give this book a 6/10.  

 

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Honestly, this book confused me. Part of me loved it, and the other part of me didn’t know what to think. The ending was satisfying, as Audrey got everything she said she wanted in the beginning and more, including friends who cared about her, her own airfield, and James, the love of her life. At the same time, we lost Catherine, Jean (who’s death I predicted and saw coming), and Carol Ann. And we never heard from Ruby again. I wish they would have brought her back or had her visit. I loved her character!  

This edition of The Flight Girls, for the e-book, pictures three friends, presumably Audrey, Carol Ann, and Nola, in their flight gear, ready to take off. (Credit: Noelle Salazar)

The beginning of the book (17-99) was flawless. It gave the perfect vibes and left me wanting more. But the entire mood changed after that, leaving the middle to be slow and repetitive. The epilogue finally restored that mood that I loved in the beginning.  

Audrey’s character, at times, didn’t have much feeling. I didn’t connect with her as much as I did with Claire, Carol Ann, Nola, or Jean. She almost seemed a little too perfect, and a bit unrealistic. An amazing character, nonetheless.  

Overall, a 6.5/10. I enjoyed seeing Audrey grow as a character, loving and losing the people she cared for most. Pair that with an enjoyable beginning and a satisfying ending, and you’ve got yourself a novel worth reading.  

Would I ever read this again? Maybe in a few years, but I typically never re-read a book. Will I recommend it to a friend? They’d have to really love historical fiction like I do. Should you read it? Give it a shot, you never know, this could wind up being one of your favorites! 

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Post-book thoughts 

Favorite Character: I honestly can’t choose. There’s a diverse cast of characters featured throughout this book, and I like just to show about every one of them—even Mae!  

Character I think could have been improved: Audrey. I liked Audrey as a character, but she was almost too perfect. And, no, I’m not talking about her having blonde hair and blue eyes. I just feel like nearly everything came easy to her. Her losses impacted her, but I didn’t feel for her as much as I did in other novels when characters die.   

Favorite relationship: Audrey and Evie. While this isn’t a focus point of the story, it’s noted and highlighted throughout the novel. Having a sister who means the world to me myself, it makes their relationship even more meaningful. Audrey would do anything for Evie, and Evie would do the same in return. Evie’s tearful goodbye and reluctance to let her go tugged on my heartstrings! I wish we had gotten to see more of them.   

Favorite scene: I enjoyed the beginning! I loved how much empowerment and female-friendship there was throughout it, as well as the romance between James and Audrey. I felt like there was a bit of everything. And, of course, the pages that make your heart sink as pearl harbor is being bombed.  

Book 2? : No, I don’t think there’ll be a book two. At least, not one that follows Audrey. I could see the author, Noelle Salazar, making book featuring each of the girls and how they got their starts. I would love to see one featuring Claire, Ruby, Catherine, and Jean. They were, by far, the most compelling characters in the book and I wish we got to see more of them.