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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Grace is a wing walker for a barnstorming team and she only feels truly alive when she's 500 feet in the air. She is determined to prove her team's skill against other flashier teams by getting into the World Aviation Expo, and earn a coveted Hollywood contract. No one has questioned the reasons behind the death defying stunts she performs until Henry, a kind and loyal young man scarred from his tour of duty on Great War battlefields a few years earlier, joins the barnstorming team as their new mechanic. With each trick, he pushes her to consider why she's such a daredevil. Despite her annoyance with his interference, she realizes she's beginning to like him and she continues to push her limits in the air. When one of her tricks saves a pilot's life, her team is invited to the Expo and she jumps at the opportunities it offers. After a stunt goes wrong, however, she is forced to reevaluate if whether her life, and Henry, are worth risking for their final trick.
Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood was one of my most anticipated 2018 YA debuts. From the moment I heard about it, it sounded exactly like something I needed in my life. I mean, YA historical fiction set in 1922 about a barnstorming team trying to make it big? Sign me up! If you don't already know, barnstorming was a popular type of entertainment during the Roaring Twenties featuring stunt biplane pilots performing aerobatic maneuvers and aerialists doing wing walking, stunt parachuting, and midair plane transfers among other things. A major part of why I wanted to give this a try is because I've been to quite a few modern airshows and have seen quite a few amazing stunt biplane pilots perform (sans wing walkers). In fact, I live fairly close to a small airport and I sometimes have the opportunity to see one of my favorite stunt pilots practice his craft. It's really cool (and kind of nerve wracking) to see a biplane do an epic tailslide right over your backyard. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to looking to trying this debut and luckily I was not disappointed in the least. In fact, Nothing But Sky may be one of my favorite reads of 2018.
The world of the Roaring Twenties that Amy Trueblood develops in this YA historical fiction debut is completely riveting and immersive. The author has clearly done her research to make her story as accurate as possible. I loved seeing the real life people and places from the time period. My favorite cameo was easily the moment Grace and Bessie Coleman (an aviation pioneer and accomplishing barnstorming pilot) share. Although the story is primarily set ninety-six years ago, the story still feels quite timely. In regards to our cast of characters, Grace, our leading lady, is absolutely fantastic. I wouldn't have been surprised if could have soared right off the page. She's determined, vibrant, tenacious, and also a bit stubborn - and honestly, I can't say I fault her for that. She's exactly the kind of character I love. As for her budding, slow burn relationship with Henry, it's sweet seeing them get to know one another. The two don't start off on quite the right foot, but it's wonderful seeing them come to trust each other on a personal level and as members of the team. Their romance isn't at the center of the story, but it's refreshing to watch them grow both as individuals and together.
Overall, Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood is a brilliant YA historical fiction debut. I'm so lucky to have been approved for this title on NetGalley and it was an honor to stay awhile in this author's world with her characters. If you're interested in historical fiction set post-WWI during the lively Roaring Twenties, early aviation, death defying stunts, women like Bessie Coleman, Lillian Boyer, Ethel Dare, and Gladys Ingle, truly vivid characters, and Flygirl by Sherri Smith, then you will absolutely need to try this new release. I expect this novel will be one of my favorite debuts of 2018, and perhaps even one of my favorite reads of year as well. One thing's for sure, I am certainly looking forward to Amy Trueblood's future projects.
Thanks again, NetGalley!
I read this ARC from March 21 - 22, 2018 and my review is also on Goodreads.