The best advice I've heard is to write what you know. Kathleen Jabs has done just that. Black Wings is set in a world she knows well. If someone were to ask me if this story is truth or fiction, without doing any research on the matter, I'd have to say I honestly couldn't tell. I am not personally familiar with the area, but it certainly feels like I'm right there sitting in the car with Bridget when she's driving, or walking across the yard on some clue hunt, or even climbing through dusty air tunnels headed to places no one ever goes.
Military training can put you in close proximity with someone, and it's entirely possible to develop lasting bonds. I'm sure there's even a term for it. Bonding under stress, or shared burden, whatever the reason I know it's possible, and being room mates of only two to four people over a span of years of tough training turns you into family somewhere under the skin. And as with family, no matter the estrangement, you tend to keep track of them.
When news that her room mate, Audrey, dies in a plane crash off a carrier, Bridget was devastated. Their last words had been harsh and feelings were bruised, then they both got busy and time passed. Now Audry was dead. That by itself was bad enough, but there were all the rumors floating around about female aviators and how they shouldn't be allowed to fly, and some of those rumors were specific to Audrey, and Bridget knew they weren't true. Her orders were to squash the rumors, and in the mean time she had to find some way to handle the death itself. She wanted to write the obituary. She wanted to meet with Audrey's mother. As if all that wasn't bad enough, reports came across her desk and they were way later than they should have been. Now she was suspicious. Was it an accident? What REALLY happened? What was NOT in all those reports and rumors?
|picture this painted black|
Throughout the book, Bridget searches for answers. Answers that will allow her to lay Audrey to rest with the honors she deserves, WITHOUT any doubt. Bridget also searches back through her memories of when it all began - clear back at the beginning, when Audrey stepped on that first set of Navy Pilot's Wings in their room at the academy early one morning and saw that they were painted black. Then they started showing up all the time, in hidden places no one could drop one by accident, and certainly not over and over again.
In order to understand the why, she must find the who. Who hated Audrey so much? Oh there were many who fit that description, but then Audrey may have been partially at fault there. She wanted to fly, and no one was going to tell her she couldn't. There wasn't a single qualification they required of her, she didn't pass and surpass. She had to. If she wanted to succeed in her dream to fly, she had to be better than the best. She was female, and EVERYTHING was stacked against her.
So - Who hated Audrey? Who had opportunity? Who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time? And WHO wanted it all covered up? Bridget finds the answers, but you'll have to read the book yourself if you want answers too. They will make you scream and claw at the pages with frustration and fury, and wrench your heart out with sadness and even a little shame. Have a read; you won't regret it.