Nothing But Sky
"Amy Trueblood takes an overlooked page in history, folds it into an intense drama, and sends it soaring. Post World War I wing walker Grace Lafferty is the kind of spunky, stubborn heroine that will make readers feel like the sky's the limit."
—Stacey Lee, award winning author of OUTRUN THE MOON
A 2018 Junior Library Guild selection.
Grace Lafferty only feels alive when she's dangling 500 feet above ground. As a post-World War I wing walker, Grace is determined to get to the World Aviation Expo, proving her team’s worth against flashier competitors and earning a coveted Hollywood contract.
No one’s ever questioned Grace’s ambition until Henry Patton, a mechanic with plenty of scars from the battlefield, joins her barnstorming team. With each new death-defying trick, Henry pushes Grace to consider her reasons for being a daredevil. Annoyed with Henry’s constant interference, and her growing attraction to him, Grace continues to test the powers of the sky.
After one of her risky maneuvers saves a pilot’s life, a Hollywood studio offers Grace a chance to perform at the Expo. She jumps at the opportunity to secure her future. But when a stunt goes wrong, Grace must decide whether Henry, and her life, are worth risking for one final trick.
This novel is simply darling!
Nostalgically set in the 1920’ Midwest USA, Grace, a spunky female barnstorming girl ahead of her time, will make your heart soar.
Grace is part of “The Soaring Eagles” barnstorming team. Although she is only 18 years old, she is all daredevil up in the sky when she performs her stunts in 500 feet above the ground. She knows her biplane “Jenny” inside and out. Her uncle Warren has taught her all the mechanics involved and the tricks of the trade.
Warren and his niece share the same passion for biplanes and flying. This sport is not for the faint of heart. He has tried to keep Grace planted on the ground for as long as he could but soaring into the sky runs in her blood. He uses all his skill and experience from WWI piloting to keep her and himself safe. Grace’s dream is to attend and win the 1922 World Aviation Exposition in Chicago. In the next 2 months they need to come up with the entrance fee, new parts for the plane and a new mechanic.
The competition in barnstorming is fierce. Grace is receiving taunts and threats because she is a girl. Shouldn’t she just be a pretty girl? Wearing skirts instead of pants, boots and overalls? Well, not her! She is thinking up new daring stunts and dangerous maneuvers to perform at the Expo.
Warren in the meantime has hired a new mechanic and it takes Grace a long time to adjust to his approach of repairing things. Henry has a keen eye for every little detail and spots things amiss on the plane easily. He keeps an impeccable order in the shop and with time they become good friends. Henry gains Grace’s trust in his workmanship. He vows to keep her safe in the sky and as a team they work side by side for hours on end. But then, right before the Expo, the government safety inspector raises some concerns they were alerted to by another team. Will they still be allowed to compete? Is there sabotage at play? What chances and risks are they willing to take?
There are many moving parts to this novel. Since this takes place post WWI, most of the characters have backstories affected by the war in different ways. I did not include these intricacies in the review as they were well thought out and would make this review very long.
All in all, it is a very refreshing, clean well thought out novel with surprises and a hint of romance. It was very enjoyable to read. A breath of fresh air in the YA genre.
I want to mention that I very much appreciate the author’s note in the back of the novel. It always interests me where a writer’s inspiration stems from, what they have learned about the subject matter and how it has influenced their own life. I am so glad Amy Trueblood happened to stroll through the Field Museum that summer of 2013, that sparked her interest to write the novel we now can enjoy and share.
I received a digital copy of “Nothing But Sky” from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you!