Book: Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Publication date: 2015
Summary: Teodros Dupré and Emilia Menotti are raised as brother and sister by their aviator mothers, one black and one white, who perform as Black Dove and White Raven while barnstorming across America. Most of the book, though, is set in Ethiopia during the events leading up to the 1936 invasion by Italy — a precursor to World War II that I knew nothing about.
As in Elizabeth Wein’s previous World War II era books (Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire), Black Dove, White Raven is a story told in documents. In this case, the documents are those blue notebooks used for writing themes. At first, they are used for themes (natch) assigned by a teacher of Teo and Em. Later, the two young people use the notebooks for fantasy stories and flight logs.
All of these documents, according to an introduction in the form of a letter, are given to the Emperor of Ethiopia, as a way to tell the story of Em and Teo in the hopes it will garner sympathy and a favor. It’s not until the end of the book that the reader fully understands the favor being asked. We read over the shoulder of the Emperor to learn the story ourselves.
Thoughts: Like Wein’s previous book, Rose Under Fire, this book starts with an introduction that tells the end of the story before shooting back to the beginning. In Rose Under Fire, I appreciated that introduction because the story was so harrowing that I needed the reassurance of knowing Rose will end up safely in Paris. I appreciated the introduction of Black Dove, White Raven for the opposite reason — it promises an exciting end to a story that has many calm and beautiful moments.
Appeal: Black Dove, White Raven will appeal to lovers of history (especially World War II and aviation), documentary novels, and the previous books by Elizabeth Wein.
Challenges: This book is my sixth one for the Diversity on the Shelf Challenge since Teo and his mother, as well as many of the characters in Ethiopa, are people of color. Or, let’s use a term I learned recently in a workshop: People of the Global Majority. I pledged to read at least seven books for this challenge in 2015, so I’m going to meet that goal handily.
Have you read this book? What did you think?