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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Area Bird is a work of military fiction based on real events, penned by author Susan I Spieth. This coming of age novel is the second in the Gray Girl series, following the experiences of women cadets in the 1980s when the US Military Academy first began to admit them. We follow Jan Wishart as her fellow female cadets start dropping out of the academy all around her, and Jan becomes determined to find out why before she too falls victim to whatever is causing the problem. When the issue turns out to be all over West Point, Jan is determined to reveal the brutal sexism taking place for all the world to see.
Social issues, realism, and military life come together in this fascinating slice of life work by author Susan I Spieth. The narration of Jan’s experiences is packed with realistic details from West Point Academy, recreated perfectly from the author’s own personal experiences, and yet Jan is very much her own character and the narrative stays true to her rather than becoming too much of a memoir. The plot is filled with characters who reveal the most horrible aspects of human nature and the gender divide, but there are rays of hope and moments of triumph that peek through the struggle, giving the novel its raw emotional quality and high readability. Overall, Area Bird is an important work in the history of women’s fiction, but it’s also an engaging, dramatic read and part of an inspirational series.