If you don’t know who the Nightwitches are, I implore you to start reading Among the Red Stars immediately. During the conflict between Russian and Germany during World War II, Russia began to accept female pilots to help fight campaigns. There were many concerns, and a ton of talking down to women. However, these women became the strong pilot who flew night bombing raids, and turned off their plane engines so they could sneak in silently. They began to get the nickname The Nightwitches, and they were highly effective.
Gwen C. Katz has written a thrilling fictional tale of a young woman named Valka in her book Among the Red Stars. Valka, her cousin Ishkra, and their friend Pasha are all living in war-torn Russian, and Valka is desperate to use the skills she’s learned on an old field plane as an elite Russian fighter. Pasha is called to war, but he is fearful and begs Valka to let him write to her. She agrees, not sure how she feels about Pasha. A letter arrives offering interviews with a female Russian war hero and offering a position as a Russian pilot. Valka and Ishkra join the fight as Pasha writes from the front lines. What follows is a thrilling young adult novel about the horrors of war and the amazing contributions of The Nightwitches.
While I did know some history going in, Katz’s big strength is her detailed accounts. The details and emotions of her characters makes it feel like reading real experiences and I found myself turning the pages very quickly to find out what would happen to everyone. The book is highly enjoyable and appropriate for about junior high up. As an adult, I found myself completely intrigued.
Among the Red Stars is now available from Harper Teen books.