I just finished an amazing and inspirational biography. A Chick in the Cockpit is the story of Erika Armstrong’s life as a female pilot and her experiences living with an abusive husband. This tale is perfect for book clubs, it even comes with a list of discussion questions at the end, and can be found on Book Club Reading List.
The aviation industry is, even to this day, dominated by men. Women pilots are rare, and Erika shares her struggles overcoming prejudice and her desire to prove that a chick can fly an airplane just as well as a man. The reader is taken on a journey through Erika’s life and given a unique view about a sector in our society where women are still fighting to be seen as equals. More compelling yet, we are given a front row seat to what abusive relationships look like, which come in many different forms. Aviation is used as a metaphor throughout the book for Erika’s personal journey. Each chapter starts with a checklist, something pilots use constantly, to guide the reader along. It is both a heart wrenching and heart warming tale of hard work, resilience, and the strength of women.
“Our mistake as feminists is thinking we should be or think more like men. There is nothing feminine about feminism, and that’s where we all got it wrong. We should be acknowledging our strengths and weaknesses, not denying them.” (page 65)
The best part of this book is its copious amount of heart. As Erika experienced each new trial, I was right there, experiencing it right alongside her, feeling her pain. I was angry when she was mistreated, incredulous when she was wrongfully arrested, and frustrated that there was no one she could turn to for so many years. I was overcome with joy at the quiet strength of her book club heroes who stepped in when she needed them most. This book makes you feel, and that is the best gift literature can give.
I also think it should be said that this is not a bra-burning, man-hating feminist book. I wouldn’t have even finished it if it was. It’s the story of someone who worked hard despite discrimination, and for years dealt with a spouse who was both controlling and emotionally and physically abusive. It is a celebration of the strength of the human spirit.
Really the only thing that can be said here is that perhaps the sections about aviation are a touch long-winded, but even they add to the overarching metaphor. I have nothing more to add here. 🙂
In my interview with Erika, she promises that,
“…this story will make you pee your pants with laughter, cry with anger, and smile at the power of women.”
I can tell you now, A Chick in the Cockpit absolutely delivers. I was teary-eyed in a few places, and by the end was so proud of all that she accomplished and the strong women that buoyed her up during her darkest hour. It made me proud to be a woman, a mother, and a wife. This is a perfect choice for any book club, especially because Erika’s heroes in the book were her own Book Club Warriors. Such an inspirational story. Go get a copy!!
[stars color=”aqua” number=”five” width=”300px”]
Schedule the author for your next book club meeting at Book Club Reading List
Buy the book on Amazon
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