Sunday, 15 March 2015

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

Black Dove, White Raven
by Elizabeth Wein

Summary: Rhoda and Delia are American stunt pilots who perform daring aerobatics to appreciative audiences. But while the sight of two girls wingwalking – one white, one black – is a welcome novelty in some parts of the USA, it’s an anathema in others. Rhoda and Delia dream of living in a world where neither gender nor ethnicity determines their life. When Delia is killed in a tragic accident, Rhoda is determined to make that dream come true. She moves to Ethiopia with her daughter, Em, and Delia’s son, Teo.

Em and Teo have adapted to scratching a living in a strange land, and feel at home here; but their parents’ legacy of flight and the ability to pilot a plane places them in an elite circle of people watched carefully by the Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie, who dreams of creating an air force for his fledgling nation. As Italy prepares for its invasion of Ethiopia, Em and Teo find themselves inextricably entangled in the crisis — and they are called on to help.
I absolutely loved the other two Elizabeth Wein books that I've read (Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire), Code Name Verity is actually probably one of my all time favourite books. This book...while it didn't quite top Code Name Verity, I loved it and it firmly cemented her spot on my I'll-Read-Anything-This-Author-Writes list.

I adored the characters -- Teo and Em were great and I loved their relationship. They were family and they were best friends and they were soulmates and that connection they had really leapt off the pages. All of the other characters were awesome too, even the ones we didn't see much of were bursting with personality.

And the writing...I love her writing. Elizabeth Wein is one of those authors that writes so well that little quotes from the book stick with you (one of my favourites).

I think what I loved most though was getting a glimpse into a country and culture I was pretty ignorant about before. I don't know much about Ethiopia or its history and this book opened my eyes a little and made me want to know more -- I think a book is definitely doing something right if it inspires you to read more about its subject matter.

It showed the gender politics at that time really well, and issues with race and war in a way I hadn't really read before. And I loved the subtle way it dealt with identity and what it is to belong -- to a place, to a family, to a people.

Basically, I loved the book. It made me wish I knew how to fly (considering its something I'm terrified of, that's no easy feat). There was nothing about it that I didn't like really. I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5.


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