Synopsis: 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?
Huge thank you to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for this ARC!
I confess, if Elizabeth Wein writes a novel, I automatically read it. Her books have the right kind of challenge level, often tell empowering and very human stories of flight, survival, and finding strength. Reading an Elizabeth Wein book means having unique and strongly thought out interactions, but she gives the reader so much to ponder in the process.
Black Dove, White Raven is probably one of her more unique books. It’s not an easy read from a written stand point, or even a topical one for that matter. She attempts to make issues of racism the forfront, while also bending history somewhat to her will to make the story accessible and engaging. I adored the cast in this book, especially Teo, Delia and Rhoda. The mom’s in particular were so enthralling and strong — such amazing role models, yet their weaknesses are so open and tough. Those two in particular just kept me wanting to know more, wanting to keep turning the pages.
This book, admittedly, took me a long time to read. Stylistically its tough because it moves back and forth between a radio drama/film, to the actual main story. However, despite my slowness, I enjoyed the style once I understood its purpose and how it would affect the narrative on a whole. There’s not too many books quite like this one, where a lot of the central themes of friendship and bravery are displayed in more than one way to the reader. Plus, Wein writes amazing friendships, whether it’s Em and Teo or Delia and Rhoda, you care about their relationships and why they matter.
Reading Black Dove, White Raven was wonderful and challenging at the same time. The characters are beautifully fleshed out and feel so real. If I have any complaint, the writing style is by far the book’s biggest barrier, because it’s not the easier to engage with. However, if you stick with it, the read itself is insanely rewarding. I cared as to what was happening in this novel, and I look forward to the next historical journey Elizabeth Wein takes me on.