Although she later became a novelist and short-story writer, Hood views her youthful years as a flight attendant through such intensely rose-colored glasses that they seem to have obscured much of her vision ... as airy and insubstantial as cotton candy, and sweet enough to give you a toothache. Hood emphasizes how selective the process of admission was — I lost track of how many times she mentioned that it was harder to get into stewardess school than Harvard — and how rigorous the training. But the overall focus stays fixed on the apparent goal of this memoir, which seems to be convincing readers of how much fun the author had and what a challenging job it was to be a stewardess ... If that was her experience, she leaves out an awful lot. Reading Fly Girl is like watching a vintage Doris Day movie in which the clueless heroine mistakenly wanders out of the 1950s and into the sex, drugs and rock and roll that followed while remaining blissfully oblivious to the political and social turmoil swirling around her, let alone what it represented, how it happened and why it mattered.
Hood’s early ambitions to be a writer—she has published about 30 books since hanging up her uniform—clearly helped her to manage the job’s exhausting schedule and no less exhausting sexism, with an Ephronian approach of turning it all into copy. After all, there can’t be many better proving grounds for a student of human behavior than an airline. So it’s a shame that in her effort to keep things breezy, Hood sometimes pulls her punches, relying on surface detail to carry the story, and quickly shifting away from darker topics, as though she’s reluctant to go beyond the barstool anecdote ... Hood’s love for air travel, paused only by the pandemic, is infectious and undying.
... paints a vivid picture of the eight years (between 1978 and 1986) she spent criss-crossing America and the world as a TWA flight attendant ... Hood is a generous, practiced storyteller, and she enlivens her reminiscences with entertaining stories about grumpy passengers and her own gaffes ... above all about gaining independence and confidence by learning to work through trying circumstances and to navigate foreign cities on her own ... a trip worth taking.