18–year–old Brook Searcy has just begun her first year at the Air Force Academy. Abandoned by her mother and raised by a loving yet distant father, Brook has surprised her traditional East Coast family by deciding to enter a completely foreign world –– the military. At the Academy she encounters both friends and terrifying foes, and experiences both first love and terrible loss as her relationships with her fellow cadets grow. Commandant John Waller, a former fighter pilot, has made the Air Force his life for nearly twenty years. His career couldn't be in better shape, but he finds himself drifting away from his wife and daughters. And when a new (and female) Superintendent who's never flown a plane becomes Waller's new boss, he worries that the institution that he's shaped his life around might be slipping away as well.
Over the course of two years, terrible scandals and heartbreaking tragedy touch both Brook and Waller's lives –– forcing them to make wrenching decisions that will shape both their careers and their lives.
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Kim Ponders grew up near Boston and graduated from Syracuse University. In 1991 she flew with Desert Storm as one of the first American women ever in combat. Her experiences formed the basis of her first novel, The Art of Uncontrolled Flight. Now a speechwriter for the Commander, Air Force Reserve, she lives with her husband and sons in New Hampshire.From Publishers Weekly:
Air Force Reservist and former fighter pilot Ponders (The Art of Uncontrolled Flight) explores the future of a scandal-plagued Air Force Academy. In the wake of an embarrassing rape scandal, Gen. Susan Long is appointed to reform the academy. Her initiative—a "Culture of Transformation"—causes resentment among cadets and alumni and is opposed by the Commandant of Cadets, Brig. Gen. John Waller, a former fighter pilot whose apt call sign is "Balls." When a cheating ring is exposed, Waller wants to expel Cadet Paula Snowe, the ringleader, but is overruled by Long, who argues that Snowe is "a perfect candidate" for transformation. Meanwhile, Cadet Brook Searcy's future at the academy is threatened by her fragile emotional state. Waller finds himself increasingly at odds with a politically savvy Long, and the death of Brook's friend and fellow cadet in a glider crash forces both Brook and Waller to reckon with their tormented pasts. While Ponders is most eloquent when describing the joys and perils of flight, she also manages to deftly capture the tension between the old and new guards. (June)
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