Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Among the Red Stars {by Gwen C. Katz}

Title: Among the Red Stars
Author: Gwen C. Katz
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: Edelweiss

World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.
Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines. 
As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.
Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.

When I heard about a book based off the true story of the Night Witches, I was super excited. And this one lived up to my excitement.

Valka is a pilot, desperate to help the war efforts with her skills. She and her cousin fight for a place in the first all-female aviation group, and Valka finally gets her wish. I loved Valka. She was strong and fierce and loyal to her country. She was flawed, sure, but you were rooting for her the entire time. She and the other girls had to fight to be taken even half as seriously as the men, and they were not going down easily. I also loved the camaraderie between the girls. This would have been such an easy opportunity for girl-on-girl hate (something I feel is too prevalent in YA), and while there were some disagreements, I loved seeing them support each other and become like family.

This story is told from Valka's POV as well as letters between Valka and Pasha. Pasha was just a sweet boy who was not cut out for war at all. I loved getting his point of view, so different from Valka's. I did feel that the story took a little while to get into, and sometimes I felt that the letters were a bit too much, but once I got into the story, I was hooked.

I also just loved the story in general. The strength and resilience of these girls, to fight in a war because they loved their country. They definitely start the story with a romanticized view of war, but even when they realize it wasn't quite what they thought, they were still determined. Even when they weren't given a fair chance. And yet they turned it around to become some of the best there were. I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction, and I loved this one.

Gwen C. Katz

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