Tuesday, April 14, 2015

*Gizmos Book Review* Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Released: March 31, 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: E-book, 368 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Emilia and Teo's lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird strike brought down the plane their stunt pilot mothers were flying. Teo's mother died immediately, but Em's survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother's wishes-in a place where he won't be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. But in 1930s America, a white woman raising a black adoptive son alongside a white daughter is too often seen as a threat.

Seeking a home where her children won't be held back by ethnicity or gender, Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia, and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their devotion to their country, its culture and people, and each other be their downfall or their salvation?

In the tradition of her award-winning and bestselling Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein brings us another thrilling and deeply affecting novel that explores the bonds of friendship, the resilience of young pilots, and the strength of the human spirit.

Black Dove, White Raven is the third novel by Elizabeth Wein that I have read. The previous two were Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire which featured brave female pilots risking their lives for country, and each other. Wein once again writes her story with World War II as a background. This time around, she breaks down the cultural barriers between whites and blacks with a moving story that is important to today's society, and also shows that there really is a world of differences between what is expected from both races as well as both genders.

Cordelia "Delia" Dupre and Rhoda Drummond Menotti are female stunt pilots, one black and one white, who are also best of friends. They fly across America in a biplane doing daring feats of wing walking and acrobatics. Perhaps, in a way, they are also soul mates in that they are "two people who understand each other without talking about it. Two halves of a whole." Rhoda has a daughter Emilia by an Italian pilot, Delia has a son named Teadoras by an Ethiopian pilot. The kids are never very far from their mothers side.

Rhoda, Teo, and Emilia's life's take a drastic change when Delia faces her mortality, leaving Teo, Emilia, and Rhoda behind struggling with her loss. Her dreams of a better world for her child, gone in a blink of an eye. With Delia's determination to give Teo a life free of struggles, it is Ethiopia that she see's for the future. While Teo and Emilia struggle to learn a new language, they come to love the people and the country of Ethiopia that slowly teeters on the brink of war with Italy.

Black Dove, White Raven alternatives narratives between Teo and Emilia. It is via letters and the so called Adventures of Black Dove, White Raven, that we learn about the differences and expectations that Teo and Emilia desire. It is a hard time for young American's to be in Africa. Especially with Italy banging drums and sharpening knives. It is even harder for Teo due to his countries antiquated slavery laws. Even though they have different skin colors, they were raised together, and stayed by each others sides through thick and thin.

The overall story wasn't exactly what I thought it would be, but nonetheless, Wein once again finds opportunities to entertain and kept me interested right to the very end. Kind of hard reading a book where the story is set in a country, Ethiopia, that has seen its fair share of awful events, or here in the US where black kids were forced into using separate facilities for eating and bathrooms. Loved that Wein gives readers an in-depth look into the history of black Americans, like Bessie Chapman, who put everything into what they truly loved; flying. I DO, encourage you to research what these awesome individuals went through in the early 20th century.

I love history, and always will. I love that Wein's historical use of Emperor Haile Selassie's reign and how it was interrupted in 1935 by Italian forces who invaded, occupied, and used mustard gas against the Ethiopians. For those who haven't been learned as to what the Legion of Nations stood for, their inaction and unwillingness to help Ethiopia, gave Hitler the green light to invade France, and terrorize the rest of Europe during WWII. Perhaps this is why the US remained an isolated country right up until December 7, 1941.

Black Dove, White Raven could have focused entirely on adults Delia and Rhoda like her previous novels did. Instead, she focuses on the children who not only have to face the realities of a new home, but a deep conflict that threatens everything and everyone they've come to love. Definitely recommend, but I do have hopes that Wein will follow up with these characters sometime in the future.  

**I received this book for free from (Disney-Hyperion) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

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