A Pair of Wings

A Novel

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Pub Date Aug 20 2024 | Archive Date Sep 20 2024
Henry Holt & Company | Henry Holt and Co.

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Description

A riveting, adventurous novel inspired by the life of pioneer aviatrix Bessie Coleman, a Black woman who learned to fly at the dawn of aviation and found freedom in the air

A few years after the Wright brothers’ first flight, Bessie was working the Texas cotton fields with her family when an airplane flew over their heads. It buzzed so low she thought she could catch it in her hands. Bessie was fearless. She knew there was freedom in those wings.

The daughter of a woman born into slavery, Bessie answers the call of the Great Migration. She moves to Chicago, where she wins the backing of two wealthy, powerful Black men: Robert Abbott, creator and publisher of the Chicago Defender, and Jesse Binga, the founder of Chicago’s first Black bank. Abbott becomes her mentor, while Binga becomes her lover. Her first love, though, remains the airplane.

But in 1920, no one in the United States will train a Black woman to fly. So, twenty-eight-year-old Bessie learns to speak French and sets off to Europe. Two years ahead of Amelia Earhart, Bessie earns her pilot's license, and later learns death-defying stunts from French and German dogfighting combat pilots.

While she finds no prejudice in the air, Bessie wrestles other challenges on the ground. A plane crash nearly kills her, her brothers seem to be crumbling under the weight of Jim Crow, and, while grappling with tough truths about Binga, Bessie begins to wonder if the freedom she finds in the sky means she must otherwise fly solo.

With tenderness and mastery, Carole Hopson imagines the breathtaking moxie Bessie Coleman harnessed in order to lift herself out of poverty and become known as “Queen Bess.”

A riveting, adventurous novel inspired by the life of pioneer aviatrix Bessie Coleman, a Black woman who learned to fly at the dawn of aviation and found freedom in the air

A few years after the...


Advance Praise

“Invigorating! A Pair of Wings is the inspiring, richly detailed American Great Migration story we've been missing. Carole Hopson writes heroine and pioneer Bessie Coleman as if she's been living inside her head. I loved it.”

—Crystal Smith Paul, author of Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?

“Hopson captures Coleman’s courage, brilliance, and passion from Jim Crow Texas to South Side Chicago; through France and Germany; and back to treacherous, barnstorming-while-Black America. But above it all, there’s flight itself. This book soars! No one flew like Queen Bess; no one tells it like Captain Carole.”

—Lorene Cary, author of Ladysitting

“Bessie Coleman was a pioneering aviatrix who, in the early part of the 20th century, was forced to travel to France to learn to fly, as no one in the U.S. would give a Black woman lessons. Her thrilling true story makes for an exciting, inspiring work of fiction in Hopson's hands. This may be the author's first novel, but as a commercial pilot herself, she takes the tale and soars with it.”

—Leigh Haber, Oprah Daily

“Ever wonder what Bessie Coleman's thoughts were as she pioneered her flying journey to become known as the Queen? Carole Hopson's page-turner gives the insight... I promise, you will enjoy the ride... Well done!”

—Vanessa Blacknall-Jamison, Board of Advisors Chairwoman, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals

“...Riveting... Bessie's story is told in a manner that entertains and captivates...from the first page to the last. Fly with Bessie and come away with an eyewitness account of a staunch trailblazer in aviation.”

—Albert Glenn, 777 Captain (ret.), FedEx and Co-Director, Lt. Col. Luke Weathers Flight Academy

“Invigorating! A Pair of Wings is the inspiring, richly detailed American Great Migration story we've been missing. Carole Hopson writes heroine and pioneer Bessie Coleman as if she's been living...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781250347213
PRICE $29.99 (USD)
PAGES 432

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