Sunday, August 14, 2011

Eyes on the Stars by Lynn Ames

Publisher:                Phoenix Rising Press

Eyes on the Stars takes the reader to a part of history that has been ignored for too long.  The WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) were created during World War II to free more men for combat duty.  The women would ferry the aircraft to war zones and sometimes act as test pilots for new fighter planes.  Their service was ignored for many years and they have only recently received the recognition they deserved.  That's where this story opens.

Jessie Keaton is attending the ceremony where the WASPs are being recognized by the government and meets the daughter and granddaughter of the woman she has loved for more than sixty years, Claudia Sherwood.  Jessie and Claudia met during training and fell totally in love.  They hoped to make a life for themselves by being stationed at the same post and at first things went fine, but a tragic event separated them.  Now Claudia's daughter gives Jessie a collection of letters that her mother had written, but never mailed, over the years.  As Jessie reads them, she reminisces about their experiences and realizes what they lost.  Although both are in their eighties and neither is in good health, Jessie decides to make one more attempt to see if they can have a chance at happiness. 

This is a good lesbian romance, but it has the added bonus of also teaching the reader some history.  Ames captures the period perfectly.  It's easy to feel the trials the WASPs went through, especially the opposition of male pilots and maintenance crews.  The situations are portrayed so well that the reader can feel as if she's actually in the events.  It's interesting to read about a time that is still close enough for some to remember, yet where expectations for women and beliefs about their abilities were so different.  These women were trailblazers in more ways than one and Ames' appreciation for them comes through clearly.

The book also evokes the question "What if?"  What if the times had been different?  What if the women had not each let her version of pride get in the way?  What if Jessie and Claudia had not lived long enough to finally be given the honor they were due and had the opportunity to find each other again?

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