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.
Elizabeth Wein was born in New York City, grew up abroad, and currently lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She is an avid flier of small planes, and holds a PhD in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. Elizabeth is the author of Rose Under Fire, winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, and Code Name Verity, winner of the Edgar Award in the Young Adult category and a Printz Medal Honor Book. Visit her online at www.elizabethwein.com.
Black Dove, White Raven 3.8 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
My favorite thing about Elizabeth Wein's novels is either her characters, or the framing devices she uses. It's a very close call.
Emilia and Teo are lifelong best friends, the daughter and son of a famous stunt flying pair known as Black Dove & White Raven. As they grow up, they take on their mothers' aliases in both the stories they write--fictionalized retellings of their own adventures--and in the lives they live.
At the beginning of the story, Emilia and Teo are living in Ethiopia with Emilia's mother, and war is breaking out with Italy. The conflict there also marked the unofficial start of World War II, and they're desperate to leave before the fighting gets any worse.
That's where things get interesting, because the entire story is told as a series of flight logs and journal entries and school assignments compiled for the Ethiopian emperor, in the hopes that he might be able to assist them with fleeing the country. I won't spoil the 'why' for you here, and it really isn't much of a spoiler to mention the set-up, since it's discussed on the first two pages. But holy crap, what a premise for a story! And what a story the two of them tell.
I loved Emilia's tough, stunt-pilot, army nurse Mom and her soft-hearted Italian father. I loved Ezra and Sinidu, the doctor and his wife in the village where Emilia and Teo live. I loved the descriptions of flying and flight school, and the often complex look at Ethiopian politics in the pre World War era, and the gorgeous descriptions of Ethiopia itself. Basically, I loved the entire story, and just like all of Elizabeth Wein's books, I never wanted it to end.
More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Wein's latest book didn't engage me quite as much as her previous two did. The way it was written put me off a bit. It was written in the voices of Teo and Em (a different font used for each) and the text of stories the two created together. For whatever reason, I didn't enjoy the story texts very much, although I saw how they related to the lives of the two young people. That said, I do love the way Wein can paint pictures with words, even the not pretty pictures of war. I did gain new knowledge about the struggles of Ethiopia in the mid-thirties, in particular about the (illegal) use of mustard gas, about which I knew nothing before reading this book. Wein's historical fiction is well worth reading.
More than 1 year ago
The hardest thing for me in connection with the #ShelfLove Challenge is not to buy a book when I’m stressed. I broke in early June. Work was getting me down, none of the free audiobooks from SYNC had grabbed my attention and I needed something to brighten my day one morning as I dreaded going into work. Recalling that Black Dove, White Raven had released, I went ahead and purchased it.
This novel fits snuggly in an area of history I don’t know much about it. Set mainly in Ethiopia in the years leading up to World War II, the lack of known historical context on my part, the narrators and the story itself, left me struggling to connect with Black Dove, White Raven the way I connected with Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire.
The history. The history of Ethiopia is fascinating. A nation that just recently abolished slavery was running on its own calendar (which was several years behind our own) took pride in the fact it was the only African nation to never be colonized. Religion runs deep in the hills—literally and figuratively. This is a history not explored in American classrooms. I don’t recall any of my history classes talking much about the African front in the years leading up to WII or the role those battles played in the war as a whole. Needless to say, I learned a lot and I spent some time staring at Google maps trying to track Emilia’s and Teo’s movements across the desert.
While the history was fascinating and I was thankful Wein shined a light on Ethiopia, it wasn’t completely engaging. I didn’t venture beyond Google maps to Wikipedia, say, to learn more. I stayed within the confines of the book just waiting to finish.
The narrators. I listened to Code Name Verity. I listened to Rose Under Fire. I tried to read Black Dove, White Raven and failed. (Yes, did try to avoid buying the book! I checked it out from the library and returned it quickly.) I was hoping for a hat trick in audiobooks when my will broke and I bought Black Dove, White Raven.
Wein uses letters, diary entries and flight logs to convey Emilia and Teo’s story. The story is told from first person point of view which in her previous two books packed a lot of emotional punch. The narration of Black Dove, White Raven lacked emotion. It was as if the narrators did not identify with the characters and their struggles. They seemed above the characters. Because of this, I found it difficult to connect with Emilia and Teo.
The story. I love Wein’s use of letters, diary entries and flight logs to share Emilia and Teo’s story. I was confused most by the insertion of “The Adventures of Black Dove and White Raven,” a series of tales co-written by the characters. I believe these adventures were meant to parallel the actual adventures of Emilia and Teo. However, they seemed oddly placed within the main narrative and I failed every time to see how they related to the narrative at large. If I had been reading the book, I probably would have skipped over these sections.
The summary. Is Black Dove, White Raven a total thumbs down? Not exactly. I finished the book. My knowledge of world history has been filled in a bit. That’s a plus.
It does get a mostly thumbs down though. I can’t get past my lack of connection with Teo and Emilia. Perhaps I was expecting too much after two emotional fire bombs from Wein’s previous works. While I want to make sure I get Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire into my physical book collection, I won’t be rushing to add Black Dove, White Raven.
More than 1 year ago
“Doing the thing you are scared of is much harder than not being afraid of anything. It is easy to be brave. It is not so easy to be scared and do a brave thing anyway.” ~Emilia
As usual, after reading a book by Ms. Wein, my heart will never quite be the same. Here’s the thing about Ms. Wein's writing: she weaves fiction directly into reality’s timeline. Not only do you learn to love the characters as if they are a part of your own family, cheering for them when they accomplish something and crying right along with them when their hearts are broken, you learn historical facts you never imagined to be true.¿
Black Dove, White Raven begins by setting the stage for two generations of Americans (ish) in the late 1920s. Two lovely close friends—also pilots—Delia and Rhoda, have a dream. No, nix that: they have dreams. But it *is* the 1920s. There are restrictions against women, restrictions against women of color, restrictions we wouldn’t even think twice about now, ever (even though its been less than 100 years since this story takes place). Regardless of how many times Delia and Rhoda are told “no”, however, they go about things their way, figuring how that no can be turned into a “yes”.
Then, something devastating changes the plan, and both Delia and Rhoda’s children have to figure out how to make the best out quite the complicated situation. Enter a whole lot of character building, traveling, personal growth, courage, Ethiopia, and another way the title of Black Dove, White Raven comes into play. (I'm just going to say here that the US cover doesn't quite hit the mark, in my opinion, and I suggest you take a gander at the cover from the UK.)
Both Teo and Emilia were such dear people who faced so many things but always learned something from them anyway. They were opposite as opposites could get, but the best brother and sister, and equally amazing in their own ways. I don’t want to say more because so much woven into the storyline and characters that you really do need to read it for yourself (and the blurb does a darn good job of summarizing things). But I will say this: if you’re wanting a quick read with everything coming together a few pages in and can’t stand things being layered upon one another to ensure a great finish, don’t pick up Black Dove, White Raven. Ms. Wein weaves an intricate set-up that can only be done the way that she does so you will care about and be effected by what actually happens in the end.
Like Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, Black Dove, White Raven is a story of love, of loss, of learning how to pick up broken pieces, and understanding that, at the end of the day, nothing matters more in life than knowing you have each other, and I recommend it to all readers (whether or not they normally read historical YA).
More than 1 year ago
Emilia and Teo have been in the soup together since their mothers first put them in an airplane as children.
After years of performing together as the Black Dove and White Raven, Rhoda finds herself alone when Delia is killed during a freak accident. Shattered by the loss of her best friend--her better half, her soul mate really--Rhoda clings to the dream Delia proposed just before her death: moving to Ethiopia where they could live together exactly as they liked without Delia's son Teo ever being discriminated against because he is black.
When they finally get to Ethiopia, Em and Teo think maybe they can be at home there watching their mother, dreaming of flight and writing The Adventures of Black Dove and White Raven together. As long as Em and Teo have each other, they know they'll be fine.
But Teo's connection to Ethiopia runs deeper than anyone can guess. As war with Italy threatens to break out in the peaceful country, Em and Teo are forced to confront undesirable truths about their own lives and the legacies of their parents.
Em and Teo know they can depend on each other for anything, just like White Raven and Black Dove, but with so much changing neither of them knows if it will be enough to save themselves and the people they love in Black Dove, White Raven (2015) by Elizabeth Wein.
Black Dove, White Raven is an engaging and fascinating story about a largely unknown setting and an often forgotten moment in history. Detailed historical references and vibrant descriptions bring the landscape of 1930s Ethiopia and the politics of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War to life set against the larger backdrop of a world on the brink of war.
Like Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, this novel is an epistolary one comprised of letters, essays and notebook entries written by both Emilia and Teo. Interludes between their story come in the form of Adventures that Em and Teo wrote for their alter egos White Raven and Black Dove.
Within the story of Emilia and Teo dealing with the coming war and all of its trappings, Wein also provides flashbacks to Em and Teo's childhood both in Pennsylvania and Ethiopia. These contrasts help to highlight the idyllic life that the family finds in Ethiopia. At the same time Wein also plays with the idea that equality doesn't always mean perfectly equal by examining the different ways Em and Teo are treated in Ethiopia and the varied obstacles they face throughout the narrative.
Black Dove, White Raven delves into the grey areas in life as Emilia and Teo try to find their proper place in Ethiopia and also come to realize that Delia's dream for them all was a flawed one even as their mother Rhoda continues to cling to it.
Throughout the novel, both Em and Teo also often refer to their stories about Black Dove and White Raven as they try to decide what course of action to take. Wein explores the ways in which both characters, particularly Em, can manipulate different identities to get what they need.
Both Em and Teo have distinct voices in their narrations. While Emilia is often rash and flamboyant, Teo is introspective and thoughtful. Their dynamic together underscores how best friends--and here the best family--help each other to be more and achieve more together than they would accomplish apart.
Black Dove, White Raven is a powerful, beautiful story of friendship, family and learning how to soar.
Possible Pairings: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, All Fall Down by Ally Carter, Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt, The Archived by Victoria Schwab, The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff, How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
More than 1 year ago
What an amazing journey these two families led. Their mothers ran an aerial flight show, entertaining spectators while causing quite a controversy in some regions. Known as the Black Dove, White Minnow, these women allowed both black and white individuals to attend their performances which upset some folks. Delia wanted more for her child and thought Ethiopia would be free of the racial issues and that her child would not have to wait for the racial laws to be changed. It seemed too good to be true, for it wasn’t long before talk of war erupted as they landed in Ethiopia. Their dreams of their children becoming the next Black Dove, White Minnow will have to go on the back burner as their security and harmony is now disrupted. The children take up drawing and creating stories of Black Dove, White Minnow in their notebooks, creating stories that are adventurous and thrilling, drawing upon the imagination of a child. They were leading such a fascinating life, taking life one day at a time, their stories so full of life why do things have to go sour? I was left shaken when one of the mother’s passes away and like the rest of the family; I had to wonder how things were going to work out. They were so close; this death left a huge hole on the survivors. Not wanting the children to take to the air and follow in their mother’s footsteps, the remaining parent prefers to keep the children close to her for fear of the unknown. Yet the war is drawing near and flying might be the only way to help them survive this crisis.
I was tired just reading about the journey these two ladies took with their children. As she narrates the journey, they meet countless individuals, take endless trips and have interesting encounters. Their children have lived a lifetime by the time they were in their teens. It was an entertaining, far-reaching novel and it made me realize how small my world really is.
I received this novel from NetGalley and Disney Book Club in exchange for an honest review.
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