The Ops Room Girls by Vicki Beeby

Ooh, I loved this book! The story follows, Evie, a reserved, academically gifted young woman whose hard work and dedication have earned her a prestigious scholarship to study at Oxford University. When tragedy strikes, she can no longer follow the path she has carved for herself and impulsively signs up for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) to try and salvage her dreams in some way. Her talent in mathematics sees her posted to the Ops Room as a plotter in an Air Force base near the Sussex coast. There she befriends shy May and glamorous Jessie as they navigate a male-dominated world where the danger of war comes every closer.

I grew up in a house next to a disused airfield, which came alive once a year for an air show. I would peep out of my bedroom window with excitement and wonder as all manner of aircraft few overhead in preparation for it. I can only imagine what it must have been like to hear the roar of engines in the sky, knowing that people I knew were risking their lives, trying desperately to stave off an attack from enemy forces.

And that’s where Vicki Beeby’s talent shines through, building the tension and emotions to fever pitch as she describes the world of the WAAFs and their emotions.

I’ve seen the Ops Room and large plotting tables in wartime pictures and films but I didn’t understand, until reading this book, just how pressured and critical the roles of those within it were. I would have hidden behind a cushion to read the air raid scenes if I could have, settling instead for brewing a calming cup of tea before plunging back into the action.

I loved how the characters came into their own, their talents shining through in ways they couldn’t have imagined. My heart was warmed as their friendship and confidence grew, and I can’t wait for the next instalment to be released!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.