Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction
Daisy Wilder prefers the company of horses to people, bare feet and salt water to high heels and society parties. Then, in the dizzying aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Daisy enlists in a top secret program, replacing male soldiers in a war zone for the first time. Under fear of imminent invasion, the WARDs guide pilots into blacked-out airstrips and track unidentified planes across Pacific skies.
But not everyone thinks the women are up to the job, and the new recruits must rise above their differences and work side by side despite the resistance and heartache they meet along the way. With America’s future on the line, Daisy is determined to prove herself worthy. And with the man she’s falling for out on the front lines, she cannot fail. From radar towers on remote mountaintops to flooded bomb shelters, she’ll need her new team when the stakes are highest. Because the most important battles are fought—and won—together.
This inspiring and uplifting tale of pioneering, unsung heroines vividly transports the reader to wartime Hawaii, where one woman’s call to duty leads her to find courage, strength and sisterhood.
What can I say, I love a good well-researched historical fiction and this was no exception. You could tell how much thought Ackerman put into writing this story to make sure timelines were straight while also providing a page-turning plot that I just couldn’t put down.
I was worried at one point that there would be bits of plot that dragged since we weren’t going to be changing locations a whole lot but that was a needless worry because there was more than enough going on with these characters on the island.
There were definitely Flight Girls vibes going on with the time period, location and the great cast of female characters and I was here for it. Flight Girls was one of my favourite reads of 2020 but Radar Girls can definitely stands out on it’s own. It’s hard not to compare them though, at least for the first portion. I couldn’t help but think about the events of both books unfolding at the same time.
While reading this book, I could really tell the passion that Ackerman put into writing it. She knows the area, she’s done the research, it felt like a very personal story full of strength, uncertainty, friendship and love. Daisy was a great lead and her progression from being an outsider to gaining a caring group of friends seemed natural and I was so happy that she was able to gain those connections and there wasn’t any forced conflict. Yes, there was conflict, but it made sense where it was and how it was brought in.
Daisy’s fellow WARDs were fun and varied and I felt they were flushed out quite a bit in terms of their backgrounds and personalities. While the female characters shone, the male characters did not stand out as much. I did really like Walker but I think it would have been really interesting to read from his POV and would probably make me like him more.
There were some plot elements that were woven throughout the story that I was worried either wouldn’t pay off or would be forgotten or would be abrupt but everything that Ackerman introduced furthered the story and had it’s own purpose. If anything, I would have liked more. I know writing training sequences can be tedious and there was a really good balance of it but there were times between scenes or chapters where I felt like there could have been more either for the training or just the life of our characters in between.
I do feel like a lot of the darkness of that time was left out and would have added another layer to the story but I can appreciate it not being there and giving Radar Girls more of a ‘girl power’ uplifting feeling as opposed to death and hopelessness on every page. It made the stakes feel a bit less for me but sometimes it’s good to have a heavy topic lean more light. That’s not to say there weren’t high stress and fear/worry filled moments though.
I’m definitely going to have to pick up more books from Sara Ackerman.