The Cybils Nonfiction for Middle Grade and Young Adult finalist Candace Fleming's Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart switches tantalizingly between chapters following the day Earhart's plane vanished over the Pacific Ocean and chapters tracing her life from infancy up to her final world-circling flight. Her early childhood, troubled adolescence, and shining career as an aviatrix alternate with the increasingly worried search and mysterious radio messages that chronicle her last day.
Fleming does a good job describing Earhart's tomboyish childhood and her struggles to adjust to an father transformed by a drinking problem during adolescence, but I get less of a sense of her adulthood. Most of the pilots she comes in contact with denigrated her skills, down to the man who failed to teach her to use her radio properly in her last airplane. So was she mostly a cute woman whose relationship with skilled promoter George P Putman propelled her to stardom? Or was she really a skilled flyer who maybe didn't require two days to figure out the radio and skimped on the lessons because she didn't need them? This book seems to lean towards the former view, but I think I want to know more. Did most pilots try to fly bigger airplanes than they trained on, or was Earhart uniquely arrogant? How likely was it that people in Florida and the Great Lakes picked up on radio transmissions that the men at the airport built for her on Howland couldn't hear? I don't have enough context to make evaluations.
I'll see if I can interested the older kids in this book; if so I'll update with their opinions.