It took some time for me to get through this book about what might have happened on the final flight of the Hindenburg, after all, we all know that it ends badly. But soon I was caught up in the lives and stories of the passengers and crews as they made their way from Germany to the United States, unaware that lives would be forever changed by the trip.
In writing Flight of Dreams, the author remains true to part of the story – the name and history of people on the voyage, the names and duties of crew members, and a working knowledge of the zeppelin itself. Upon those basic facts, the stories become layered with “what ifs” as a way to posit backstories and possible reasons that the Hindenburg may have exploded when it attempted to land in New York. She weaves in espionage and possible treason, a plan to escape from the rising Nazi influence in Germany, family dynamics, a budding romance, and lots of behind the scenes personality issues aboard the ship.
Could it have happened this way? Maybe. The record of investigation is full of holes, undetermined issues, and possibilities. Or maybe not.
But as I said, we all that the trip ended badly. And so did the book. The author stayed true to the end, there was no change in who survived and who didn’t. For more information on the passengers and crew, this website provides a full list and explanations of who survived and didn’t. I had to go here to read more after finished the book as I wasn’t quite ready to let go of these personalities.
I read a second book that fits into this category, Before We Were Yours, which was based on the real-life life adoptions scandals from the 1930-40s. It was, at times, painful to read knowing that this was a “factionalized” version from that era.
It’s hard to decide whether the story has a happy ending or not – there were too many loose ends that left me feeling unsettled – but that probably means it was close to the truth. However, it does end on an uplifting note, an understanding that families are a complicated and messy thing, but a place where you can find joy is a wonderful thing.