Sparrow Squadron (Aelita’s War #1)
By: DL Jung
Publisher: Xinlishi Press
Publication Date: February 2018
“There was a time when flying didn’t mean looking over my shoulder for death coming at me.”
World War II. June 1941. Hitler’s war machine turns to the Soviet Union.
Escaping her hometown ahead of the Nazis, 16-year-old Aelya Makarova seizes a chance to live her dream. Obsessed with flying, she joins a women’s fighter squadron to defend her homeland against the invaders. She’ll go faster and higher than she’s ever gone before.
But the harsh reality of Air Force life shatters her expectations and forces her to grow up fast. The squadron is split by petty rivalries, male pilots treat them like a joke, and the ideal country she thought she was fighting for doesn’t really exist.
Finally given a chance to prove herself in battle, Aelya is pushed to breaking point. With all her talent, the help of her comrades, and a lot of luck, she might just make it through. But will there be anything left of her humanity?
With fast-paced action and a heart-rending mix of humour and tragedy, Sparrow Squadron is an adventure novel for young adults that brings an overlooked episode of history to life.
The Historical Inspiration for Sparrow Squadron: Soviet Women in Combat in WWII
As a source of stories and ideas, is there anything that can compare to World War II? Yet as much as has already been mined by pop culture, there still seem to be limitless supplies of new and compelling stories that cry for wider exposure. At the same time, we’re at a moment now when the role of women in the war is being reexamined.
Unlike other countries during WWII, the Soviet Union officially allowed women to participate in combat. This was partly due to its stated ideals of equality and partly due to desperation as the Nazi invasion soaked up manpower. In all, 800,000 women served in the Soviet armed forces during the war.
Women often had to make sacrifices over and above the men. Beyond the brutal conditions at the front, they were in danger of sexual misconduct and assault from their own side. And their struggle continued after the war, as many were shunned in society, labelled as “unwomanly,” “homewreckers” and “whores.” They were even denied the right to march in the victory parade.
Thankfully, hardworking historians have cut through decades of censorship and denial to bring more and more of their heroic stories to light. Notable female combatants included Alexandra Samusenko, who led an entire tank battalion, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who recorded 309 sniper kills, and Lily Litvyak, the highest scoring female ace of all time and model for one of the main characters in Sparrow Squadron.
DL Jung has been an enthusiastic student of history since grade school, when he spent lazy afternoons flipping through an old Encyclopedia Britannica set. He enjoys blogging about history and writing historical fiction. He also writes fantasy and horror fiction as Darius Jung.
Jung is married, with two children, and lives in Toronto, Canada. They are lucky enough to spend part of the time in New Zealand. Outside of writing, he has tried stints as an industrial engineer, a film and TV script supervisor, an IT consultant, a professional game show contestant, and a grossly under-qualified business wear model. Sparrow Squadron is his debut novel.
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