Friday, May 22, 2009

Julie With Wings (Laura Kerr, 1960)

Laura Kerr, il. Stan Campbell (cover)
1960, Funk & Wagnalls Company

"I love flying," she began, "and looking down on the world below all spread out like a beautiful, animated map. Somehow up there I have such a feeling of strength - strength and humility all in one. It's unbelievably thrilling to me that men can fly like birds."

Julie Jordan graduates from State University and enters stewardess school for Nationwide Airlines. Her parents aren't thrilled, particularly after she turns down a marriage proposal from lifelong boyfriend, Tug Simpson.

"Tug - Tug-" Julie chose her words carefully, stringing them together slowly. "You don't understand. I'm not ready to be a wife and mother. I've only begun to live! When I was a child, Tug, I used to sit on the porch of our cottage on Lake Michigan, watching the full moon rise over the water. Even then I wished I might follow its silver path on and on beyond the horizon. What was there, far from the city in which I was born? Were there mountains and valleys, mansions or hovels? What sort of people lived in them? What did they think about? Tug, there's a whole world for me to discover before I marry..."

Tug throws a fit and stalks out, but Julie's grief over the end of their relationship is tempered by excitement when she begins to travel. First to Arizona for 'stew school,' then to Los Angeles for her first posting and her exciting first year working as a stewardess. She and fellow stewardess Jane Ferris room together and spend their spare time exploring the western United States, from San Diego to Hawaii. In Waikiki, she's romanced by handsome U.S. Marine Brad Minton, but when he proposes to her in the romantic beauty of the islands, she hesitates and realizes she's still not over Tug.

A very well-written book with interesting characters and enjoyable action, far above the standard of many young adult series and career romances. Julie's an appealing heroine, and quite strong, even in decisions the reader may dislike.

Vanished Worlds - and not so much, sadly
When Julie tells her parents that she and Tug have quarreled, she says it was her fault. This is less likely today, given that his attitude that she owes him a marriage at 21 is completely out of date. Her father's reaction, however, still unfortunately rings true:

"Your fault? In what way, Julie?" asked her father impatiently. "Tug isn't a child anymore, you know. It isn't kind to play games with his affections."

What is it with men that so many of them will automatically feel the brotherly love even when the female side of the equation is their daughter, sister, wife or mother? I've had the same 'don't hurt the boy' stuff from male relatives, and I find it creepy.

Other Books by Author
Doctor Elizabeth (1946)
The Girl Who Ran For President (1947)
Lady In The Pulpit (1951) (bio of Antoinette Brown Blackwell)
Scarf Dance: The Story of Cecile Chaminade (1953)
Footlights To Fame: The Life Of Fanny Kemble (1962)
Louisa: The Life of Mrs. John Quincy Adams (1964)
Wonder Of His World: Charles Wilson Peale (1968)

About the Author
Laura Nowak Kerr was from Chicago, and the author of several biographies and books for teens.