Title: Seized by the Sun
Author: James W. Ure
Genre: YA Nonfiction
Rating: 5 stars
What’s it about? The life story of Gertrude Thompkins, a World War II pilot in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program. In 1944, Thompkins was flying a P-51D fighter plane when she disappeared during a short flight from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. Her plane has never been recovered and she is one of thirty-eight female pilots either confirmed or presumed dead.
Gertrude was raised in New Jersey and was the daughter of a wealthy business man. Her childhood was often unhappy and marked by a debilitating stutter. These years were consumed by her father’s endless efforts to cure her of the same affliction that plagued him and her mother’s depression. After high school, she earned a college degree in horticulture and traveled the world before she discovered a love for flying. It was her confidence in the air that finally cured her stuttering.
The book describes the rigorous WASP training and explains how the female pilots flew fighter planes to bases to be loaded with arsenals before enlisted male pilots flew into battle. The author includes many interesting details about the times and women during World War II. I enjoyed learning that the reason pilots wore silk scarves around their necks was to keep their necks from chafing as they constantly turned their heads to check their course.
How did you hear about it? I saw it on our library’s online listing of new Young Adult books. I was attracted to the cover and immediately clicked on the book description.
Closing comments: I knew a little bit about the WASP program, but didn’t completely understand what the female pilots did in the war effort. I had never heard about Gertrude Thompkins and was impressed with her fearless ambition.
Seized by the Sun is an excellent story for readers of all ages. The book includes many photographs and interesting sidebars and offers a great way to learn about history. It is part of the Women in Action Series of biographies.
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