Bravo! A 5 Star read!
A must read! A timely, swift flight through an exquisitely written memoir for readers of any age!
No matter what the genre, the criterion for any good book is that the author be a good storyteller and must grab the reader’s attention from the start. That’s exactly what Laura Savino succeeds in doing.
Writers of fiction have both the luxury and challenge to create characters who fit into an imagined truth, while choreographing a story line in which all the pieces fit in the telling. Memoirists, however, examine, explore, and share memories from personal life experiences. Savino’s driving need is to re-visit her experiences, re-member them and then share them in written form.
With limited ego and a full degree of humanity, Savino’s personal story exemplifies excellent storytelling, easy/flowing language, and honesty that captivates the reader’s attention.
In her Author’s Note before the book even begins, we see a photo of her oldest son at age four and in pre-school. Savino writes that when his teacher asked: “Nicholas, what do you want to be when you grow up? Do you want to be a pilot?” “Eww,” he exclaimed in disgust, “That’s a girl’s job.” Well, if your mother is a pilot, Nicholas’s response is understandable. Yet, more to the point, this Note sets the mood for her memoir. She has already invited us with humor and an implied need to tell her story, which is – as described on the book’s back cover – “a blueprint for how to defy expectations and follow your inner compass to do things you never thought possible.”
True to her story telling style, we first meet her as a young girl whose dream is to become a pilot, no matter the odds. She’d never known any pilots, let alone any who were female.
Though her childhood days were filled with airplanes passing overhead, no one seemed to notice them except Laura. One day when a jetliner “screamed low,” she was “fascinated and confounded that even then, at that moment, everyone just tuned it out.” For her, that was a pivotal moment: “The jet set my imagination on fire. The match was lit and the blaze was bright.” She longed to see a plane up close. “I wanted to see the inside of an aircraft. Not the cabin, but the cockpit, I wanted to see what the pilots saw . . . feel the controls in my hands and examine every switch and button I imagined must be there . . . Up there is where I wanted to be.”
Growing up in a traditional Roman Catholic family, a latchkey kid in rather provincial New Jersey town, there were many unwritten rules. “Expectations. Norms. My position in life was clear and my future path was narrow. I was destined to grow up to become a nun or a housewife.” And while neither of those roles is implicitly negative, she knew from a very early age that those were not rules she would obey. She was determined to find secret ways to rebel, to remain an atypical teen-ager, young adult, and adult, if she was to succeed in fulfilling her dream. “I needed to define my own expectations and pick my own direction,” she concluded.
Throughout 300 pages that’s exactly what we witness her doing.
Even when she dared to question the reality of becoming a pilot, she always felt compelled to try. Not trying,” she writes, “was far worse than any thought of ultimate failure.” I would add that is true for any person with a passion who then successfully fulfills a dream.
We’re with her as she perseveres from her earliest days of being a student pilot while still in HS, to a flight instructor, charter, aircraft repossessor and commercial airline pilot and, ultimately, to an international airline pilot/Captain for United Airlines.
Much of her memoir also covers the history of what was happening in the world – from the Gulf War (in which, as a member of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, she flew military troops to and from the Persian Gulf War and received the Civilian Desert Storm and Desert Shield Medal of Honor) to the horror of 911, when so many of her fellow pilots and flight attendants lost their lives. . . “With all the lives stolen that day, the airline crew were the first to be killed. . . We were all robbed of our naiveté and, in part, the joy of aviation. . .but our joys and dreams could not be stolen and our all-American passion for freedom grew stronger and more powerful across our nation.”
As testimony to her exquisite writing, I admit in all honesty that I’ve never had any interest in becoming a pilot nor have I ever desired to understand the inside of any plane; but, with each leg of Savino’s journey, she takes the reader into flight; I found her enthusiasm coupled with her perseverance to be contagious.
What is perhaps most memorable about this memoir is how she shares her story. Whenever she finds herself having to buck the system – either from having to confront the abuse of male co-workers or deal with an airline that had not yet considered hiring a 5’3” beautiful, young woman, she makes note of every lesson she learns and then passes it along to the reader.
One of my favorites is:
“It took me years before I believed my voice alone had the power to change things. But I eventually got there. It takes one person at a time for an entire society to get there.”
Even in 2022, years after she first took to the skies. there are still many young girls and boys, men and women of one minority or another who have an uphill battle to climb, if they are to prove themselves worthy.
As inspiring as her memoir is, it has no fairy tale ending. Captain Savino leaves us with a deep understanding of her life. As she includes the pleasures and pain that allow us to identify with different aspects of her story in personal and inspiring ways, she ultimately succeeds in offering HOPE to all her readers!
About the Author
Captain Laura Savino piloted the B777, B767, B757, B747, B737, A319 and A320 as an international airline pilot for United Airlines.
Laura flew for Eastern and Pan Am regionals before that. On her way to becoming a commercial airline pilot, she worked as a flight instructor, charter pilot, freight pilot, aerial sightseeing tour pilot and aircraft repossessor. She has flown planes as tiny as a car and widebody aircraft larger than a football field.
Learning to fly as a teenager at Morristown Municipal Airport in New Jersey, Laura continued her aviation education at Purdue University, graduating with an AS in Applied Science and a BS in Aviation Technology.
Bringing her love of flying and family to the pages, Laura is an award winning author, taking first place in the 2020 Pennwriters competition. Her inspirational stories can be found in two editions of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, published by Simon & Schuster – Be You: 101 Stories of Affirmation, Determination and Female Empowerment and The Magic of Cats: 101 Tales of Family, Friendship & Fun.
Laura is Chairman for the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots, active member of ISA+21, the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, and Smokehouse Pilots Club, where she lives in Virginia with her two sons, two cats and a lizard.
JET BOSS is available in print and ebook at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1940553113
Please find more information on her website: https://laurasavino747.com
Email: [email protected]