The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West
Grade : A-

The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West is a lovely, heart-tugging and exciting novel that fictionalizes a real-life air race that was loaded from top to bottom with disasters and drama.

We are presented with two timelines. In 1987, sculptress Wren Summers finds herself landing on The Big Island. Her father disappeared years ago, her relationship with her mother is strained due to Wren’s perceived immaturity, and she has no roots holding her in Kaimuki. Desperate, in arrears with her rent after being fired from her day job and ending a bad relationship, the property she has inherited from her Great Aunt Portia provides a new start. A start Wren will get once she sells the land, barn, and untended macadamia grove. But while clearing the property, she stumbles upon a stray dog – and comes to realize the disused barn she’s inherited is no barn at all, but an airplane hanger, complete with plane. Further clues left behind by her late great uncle send Wren on a quest to uncover the truth about Livy West, the 1920s aviatrix tied to the plane. Wren makes friends with the denizens of the local senior center, who help her figure out Livy’s backstory. She also meets a handsome rancher named Pono Willard, who shows her the possibility of true love may still exist for her. Along the way, Wren will lean some surprising secrets about herself.

In 1927, fisherman’s daughter Olivia – Livy - West wants nothing more than to see the world via plane and prove that she’s just as good at flying as any man. Unfortunately, she’s met by sexism at every turn. She declares her intent to join the Dole Air Race, but no one is willing to sponsor a woman. Instead, she ends up being selected by Felix Harding to navigate for his plane, Malolo – and she’s only a desperation hire. While her parents are extremely supportive, the rest of the world is not. She does meet a handsome pilot named Heath, but the relationship they develop is on again/off again due to Livy’s commitment to flying. As she embarks on the Dole Air Race, with 60,000 miles between her and personal victory, and hundreds of thousands of sponsorship dollars on the line, danger stalks both her and Felix – and they will witness calamity, disaster, and even death as they fly the race route.

In case you’re curious, the stories of Wren and Livy do connect, though I won’t spoil how. The destination is half the joy here, and The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West takes its time getting there. It’s rare that I find a dual timeline novel equally enchanting and involving in both time periods, but this one manages to pull it off beautifully.

Each heroine is interesting, touching, and wonderful to spend time with. Ackerman does a fabulous job of capturing each period, lacing the prose with a lot of beautiful, small details. The rich beauty of Hawaii, the uneasy balance between its citizens and white tourists, and the feeling of life there are all beautifully depicted. Both stories will tug at the heartstrings and keep you reading. Ackerman has that specific, transporting gift that makes you feel like you’re in an airplane with the wind blowing through your hair.

The mystery here is actually pretty surprising, and unveils itself with wonder to the reader, slowly. Sure, the ending is a little creaky-cheesy, but the book pretty much earns it. It’s the only reason this book isn’t a straight-up A. But it’s definitely a DIK-level read. The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West flies high.

Reviewed by Lisa Fernandes
Grade : A-

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : February 18, 2024

Publication Date: 02/2024

Review Tags: dual timelines mystery

Recent Comments …

Lisa Fernandes

Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at, follow her on Twitter at or contribute to her Patreon at or her Ko-Fi at
Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
What's your opinion?x