Thursday, March 24, 2011


Amelia Earhart was a survivor—except when she didn’t survive. She was charming—except when she wasn’t charming. Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming reveals the person behind the legend. The author essentially states that the pilot may not have fully prepared for her what turned out to be her final flight. Amelia Earhart was willing to wreck a friendship to get a lecture tour and a marriage to get the man she loved and who could ensure her fame.

These are not easy things to know about your hero.

Yet the author takes nothing away from Amelia Earhart’s intelligence, goal-setting and accomplishments. She worked hard and earned every success. As readers we can feel Amelia’s charm and courage coming through the pages. Each chapter makes a strong case for why she became an American hero. I had a chance to interview Candace Fleming recently, and one of the things I found most touching was the reason for the author’s fascination with Earhart. “My mother, who must have been 13 in 1937 [when Earhart disappeared], would tell a story about going outside and looking up, convinced that she'd see [Amelia] fly over her little town in Indiana,” Fleming says. “She couldn't believe her Amelia was lost—not the person she had seen in the newsreels and in the papers!”

The book leaves us with haunting questions: How far would you be willing to go to pursue a dream? Would you risk all that Amelia Earhart risked? Friends, family, safety? If presented with the right opportunity, if we were offered a fully funded chance to fly around the world as the first woman pilot—the Friendship flight that started her on her way—maybe we would have risked it all, too.

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