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Reviewed by Tiffany Ferrell for Readers' Favorite
The year is 1941 and Nazi Germany is at war with Soviet Russia as well as most of Europe. In a break with tradition, the Soviet army begins recruiting women to train as soldiers and pilots to fight for the motherland. We follow three women as they serve Russia, saving villages from the German invasion. Lieutenant Vera Zhkov, Sasha Yivoskov, and Elena Petrovka each start dropping bombs on the enemy during nightfall. These women are highly talented and bring death to many of the Nazis that they encounter. While Vera and Sasha stick to running sorties, Elena is promoted to being a fighter pilot. The word begins circulating in enemy territory about Soviet 'Night Witches' who fly at night, shooting their planes down and attacking them from above. When a particular German general finds out about how women fighter pilots are killing many of their men and destroying planes, he orders his men to eliminate the threat, telling them that they will receive high honors for doing so. We follow these brave women through the Second World War as they fight not only the German enemy but the prejudices of their male counterparts in the Soviet army.
I found Fly Toward Death by Sally A. Laughlin a fascinating and gripping read. I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of female pilots being enlisted for the Soviet army, and being a huge fan of history it was very exciting to read about these brave ladies that flew during the war. The characters were well thought out and their unique background stories keep readers' attention. The plot is based on real-life events so even though Vera, Elena, and Sasha weren’t real-life people, their experiences were very real and their fates were like many of the actual women who served their country. Sally A. Laughlin tries to bring these women to life through her writing and she certainly has achieved this. Overall, I found Fly Toward Death to be an emotional, yet enjoyable read. It’s a novel I will recommend to my history buff friends. Meanwhile, I want to find out more about the real women who served during the war.