I recently read Gwen C. Katz’s debut novel Among the Red Stars, and I was just so captivated by it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s YA historical fiction inspired by the real airwomen of Soviet Union Aviation Group 122, also known as the Night Witches by the Nazis. Though the main characters in this story are fictional, the majority of the characters are real women who actually flew during WWII, and I was absolutely fascinated by them.
I am so excited to have Gwen here on the blog today to share some information about these inspirational women as well as some fantastic photographs of Aviation Group 122!
About the Night Witches
In 1941, as the Soviet Union fought a desperate battle against the Nazi invasion, famed Soviet airwoman Marina Raskova went to Moscow with a proposal: An all-women’s aviation group. Hundreds of girls, mostly ages 18 to 21, tried out for this air group, Aviation Group 122, in the hopes of getting a chance to serve their country. Aviation Group 122 eventually split into three regiments: A fighter regiment, a day bomber regiment, and a night bomber regiment. The former two flew advanced, high-tech aircraft, but they were quickly forgotten after the war. The night bomber regiment, the 46th Guards, were given fragile, flammable wood and canvas biplanes no faster than cars, yet they are the airwomen who would become famous.
Over the course of the war, the 46th Guards flew over 23,000 missions to bomb the enemy forces, becoming one of the most highly decorated regiments in the Red Army Air Force in the process. Their favorite trick was to cut their engines and glide over the target, making no sound except the whistling of the wind though the wires, a sound which reminded the Nazis of witches’ brooms and earned them the nickname “Night Witches.” More than 70 years later, the Night Witches remain a powerful reminder of what women are capable of achieving.
Among the Red Stars Tours an Air Force Base
I loved this book so much, I took Among the Red Stars on a tour of my local air force base. Here are some pictures from our day out.
About the Book
World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.
Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.
As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.
- Title: Among the Red Stars
- Author: Gwen C. Katz
- Publisher: HarperTeen
- Pub Date: October 3, 2017
About the Author
Gwen C. Katz is a writer, artist, game designer, and retired mad scientist easily identified by her crew cut and ability to cause trouble. Originally from Seattle, she now lives in Altadena, CA with her husband and a revolving door of transient mammals. She is represented by Thao Le of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
Will you be reading Among the Red Stars when it hits bookshelves near you in October? What are some of your favorite historical fiction novels? What are some of your favorite novels inspired by real women?