When youngSharon Lacey travels from Canada to England in the spring of 1940 in search ofthe father she never knew, she finds herself called upon to participate in amuch larger and more dangerous mission. For at eighteen, she is a gifted flierin an England desperate for pilots to fend off the impending attack fromHitler’s Luftwaffe. In the months that follow, Sharon will be tested in waysthat will affect the rest of her life—should she survive.
WithBlackbirds, award-winning mystery novelist Garry Ryanturns his hand towards historical fiction, vividly evoking the fear anduncertainty of wartime England, as well as the spirit of camaraderie andadventure shared by the men—and women—who stepped forward to defendit.
“Youthink they’re the boys from Dunkirk?” Sharon put her hands between the rock anda backside that was complaining about the rough edges of severalstones.
“Their kit looks new,” Linda said. “Their boots arenew. Supposedly, they left the beaches with little more than the clothes ontheir backs. It’s being called a victory. Our army plucked off the beach andsaved from certain defeat by the Nazis. By the looks on their faces, they don’tfeel like victors. ” Linda looked over her shoulder. The fog was sifting awayfrom the grass of the airfield. She could make out a low, red building withwhite window frames. “It’s lifting. ” She carefully tapped the hot end of hercigarette against a stone, touched it with her fingertips, and put theremainder in the pocket of her flight suit. “Come on. If we get through today,we’ll be off to White Waltham. It’s a little airfield next to London where theATA is beginning its operations. ”
“ATA? How come you Britishnever speak English? It’s all ATA, RAF, BBF, WC,” Sharonsaid.
“Air Transport Auxiliary. We get to fly all the kitesthe big boys get to play with. The difference is, we’re not supposed to haveJerry shooting at us. ”
I’ll never get used to thisplace, Sharon thought. Nobody speaks English. Jerry means German. RAF meansRoyal Air Force. Git means asshole. It’s like learning a newlanguage.
An engine sputtered andcaught.
Sharon swung around, using her arms to push herselfaway from the wall. She landed softly in the long grass. It swished against herflying boots as she walked. She looked down. The toes were already coated withdew. She zipped up her leather RAF Irvin sheepskin jacket as she walked againstthe wind. She watched the wings of a Tiger Moth shiver as its engine tickedover. The newly camouflaged green and grey biplane looked about as awkward onthe ground as it did in the air. She turned to her friend. “Any news ofMichael’s whereabouts?” Why are you so interested in her brother?
Lindashook her head as she zipped up her flight suit. “Not a word. My mother isbeginning to fear he’s been captured by the Germans. ”
Sharonnodded. We can’t speak about the other possibility. The possibilitythat he won’t be coming back.