A PAIR OF WINGS
Pub: August 20, 2024
A riveting, adventurous novel inspired by the life of pioneer aviatrix Bessie Coleman, a Black woman who learned to fly at the dawn of aviation, and found freedom in the air. A few years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight, Bessie was working the Texas cotton fields when an airplane flew right over their heads. Without even thinking, she spread her arms out and pretended she was flying. She knew there was freedom in those wings. The daughter of a woman born into slavery, Bessie answers the call of the great migration, moving to Chicago as a single woman. But in 1920, no one in the U.S. will train a Black woman to fly, so 26-year-old Bessie learns to speak French and bets it all on an epic journey to Europe as she begins a quest to defy the odds and gravity itself. Two years ahead of Amelia Earhart, Bessie is molded by battle-hardened French and German combat pilots, who teach her death-defying stunts. Bessie’s signature majestic loops, spiky barrel rolls, and hairpin turns, just like her hardscrabble journey, are spellbinding. While she finds there is no prejudice in the air, Bessie must wrestle with many challenges: She nearly dies in a plane crash, one of her brothers seems to be crumbling under the weight of Jim Crow, and as she grapples with tough truths about Binga, Bessie begins to wonder if the freedom she finds is the air means she must otherwise fly solo.