Tuesday 23 June 2015

Black Dove, White Raven written by Elizabeth Wein

I still have a plane. There must be some way I can get Teo out safely. I think Momma’s hoard of Maria Theresa dollars is enough to pay for the travel. I am hoping my new passport is waiting for me in Addis Ababa. But Teo…Teo is trapped.

Published by Hyperion US / Egmont UK in March 2015

368 pages in printed edition

Read as NetGalley proof – sorry, I can’t comment on the artwork.

Summary from author’s own website

Em and Teo are the children of stunt pilots Rhoda and Delia, 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 in the 1920s, 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 adapt 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 in 1935, Em and Teo find themselves inextricably entangled in the crisis — and they are called on to help.
Reviewed by K. M. Lockwood

This is exactly what those who loved ‘Code Name Verity’ and have younger relatives have been yearning for. All the passion for aviation, all the fascination of a different historical period and all the sense of adventure – in a story suitable for somewhat less experienced readers. I should add there are bonuses for older readers too – a wonderful and little-known civilisation (Ethiopia) at an intriguing moment in time, and insights into the past of America and Italy that you rarely encounter. There is a wealth of notes at the back as an extra.

And not one bit a boring history lesson.

Because you really get to know Teodros and Emilia (Teo and;Em for short), and their family background, you’re drawn through the flashbacks and complications desperate to know what happens to them. I should warn you there are some distressing moments – but overall, it left this reader with a sense of appreciation for Ethiopian culture – and hope for the future of most of the characters. No spoilers from me.

This story is ideal or those who love a big sweeping family tale in an unusual setting. It’s great for those who want to embed themselves in a culture they haven’t come across before (unless you are Ethiopian, of course – in which case you might well enjoy the two children’s perspectives anyway). There are contrasting points of view to appreciate, (Teo and Em do have their fallings-out, as well as other characters) and some character-driven humour to vary the tone. 

An enjoyment of daring escapades involving planes helps!

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