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Review: In 'Nothing But Sky' plot with fierce female protagonist falls flat

‘Nothing But Sky” is a highflying adventure story set the post-World War I era. Its shining star is Grace Lafferty. Always pushing the men in her life to reach for more and be more, Grace is a force to be reckoned with. Not one to take no for an answer, Grace sets her sights on competing at the World Aviation Expo in Chicago. Grade’s tenacity and ingenuity for unique breathtaking stunts might just get her barnstorming team the money and fame she desires, but it also places them in danger in the air and on the ground. Grace’s excitement and passion oozes off the page and the reader can’t help but be taken up in her dreams and stunts hoping and praying she survives.

Trueblood’s research into flying and its history is to be admired. When describing Grace’s crazy stunts, the reader will feel like they are on the wing of the plane or dangling from the struts of the plane with her — wind in their hair, heart pounding with fear and excitement. Even the technical jargon and detailed stunt planning is well written. Not once do these details bog the story down. These details are a natural part of the storytelling, help to build the excitement and drive the plot forward while being explained in a way a nonaviation expert can understand and appreciate.

“Nothing But Sky” does fall a bit short on the plot. While Grace’s passion for flying feels new and Trueblood’s explanations of the ins and outs of stunt flying are a natural part of the story, the rest of the plot is predictable. As the reader reaches the book’s endpoint, all the loose threads of the story come together in a nearly impossible and unbelievable way. It’s unfortunate that when the plot is not focused on flying or the stunt work, or Grace’s goal to get to the World Aviation Expo, the story leaves a bit to be desired.

This shortfall may be in part to the other characters that populate Grace’s life. Grace is such a lively character that the other characters that play a part in her story are caricatures compared to her. Not enough time is spent exploring and delving deeper into Grace’s relationships and developing the characters who mean the most to her and become key players in the plot. And when it comes to the big reveal in the story, confusion reigns as there is little indication earlier in the story that the culprit was someone much closer to Grace than even she imagined.

Women play a big role in aviation history, and “Nothing But Sky” captures the excitement, passion, technical details and danger, for both men and women, associated with early aviation. Trueblood gives readers a strong female character to admire and shows them a picture of early American History that is not well known. “Nothing But Sky” is a strong entry into the genre of historical fiction with a fierce female protagonist to admire.

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