About The Secrets of Flight
• Paperback: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (May 3, 2016)
This captivating, breakout novel—told in alternating viewpoints—brings readers from the skies of World War II to the present day, where a woman is prepared to tell her secrets at last.
Estranged from her family since just after World War II, Mary Browning has spent her entire adult life hiding from her past. Now eighty-seven years old and a widow, she is still haunted by secrets and fading memories of the family she left behind. Her one outlet is the writing group she’s presided over for a decade, though she’s never written a word herself. When a new member walks in—a fifteen-year-old girl who reminds her so much of her beloved sister Sarah—Mary is certain fate delivered Elyse Strickler to her for a reason.
Mary hires the serious-eyed teenager to type her story about a daring female pilot who, during World War II, left home for the sky and gambled everything for her dreams—including her own identity.
As they begin to unravel the web of Mary’s past, Mary and Elyse form an unlikely friendship. Together they discover it’s never too late for second chances and that sometimes forgiveness is all it takes for life to take flight in the most unexpected ways.
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Mary Browning has spent most of her life hiding from her past. Now, she is an 87 year old widow trying to live out her days in dignity. Mary heads up a seniors writing group, since she is a published author of exactly one book, even though she has not submitted any writing to her group in a decade. When 15 year old Elyse stumbles upon the writing group, Mary feels connected to Elyse and decides to hire Elyse to type her memoir. Mary opens up to Elyse about her true identity-Miri Lichtenstein, and past- a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot during World War II. As Mary rehashes her past, Elyse’s present is crumbling and they will need each other to keep hope.
This is one of those books that make me happy to read historical fiction, through Mary/Miri I learned of the brave women who were WASP’s. Mary/Miri’s character grabbed me in both the past and the present. Even as an 87 year old, Mary/Miri showed mettle, spunk and humor through her interactions; and even though she was still hiding her true identity, she never lost the personality of the determined teenager who risked everything to fly. Miri’s character overcame a lot of diversity; she was discriminated against for being a woman and faced adversity for being Jewish. Eventually, this led to an entire identity change. It was very interesting to read about Mary finally coming to terms with her true self as she delves into her past with Elyse. On the other hand, Elyse was a typical 15 year old girl with typical teenage problems. Her character was well developed and does grow throughout the story, but I really wanted her to have more passion so there would be an even stronger bond between her and Mary. The writing took me back and forth through time from WWII with Miri’s point of view to the present alternating between Mary and Elyse. I do love a good dual time story, but every once in a while in the present, it took me a second to realize the point of view. While I did see the overwhelmingly endearing ending coming from a mile away, it did wrap up everyone’s story very neatly and was very emotional and heartwarming. Overall, a sweet historical fiction that focuses on finding your true self.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Maggie Leffler is an American novelist and a family medicine physician. A native of Columbia, Maryland, she graduated from the University of Delaware and volunteered with AmeriCorps before attending St. George’s University School of Medicine. She practices medicine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and sons. The Secrets of Flight is her third novel.
Find out more about Maggie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.