I’m Valkyrie White. I’m fifteen. Your government killed my family.
Ever since Mabby died while picking beans in their garden — with the pock-a-pock of a helicopter overhead — four-year-old Valley knows what her job is: hide in the underground den with her brother, Bo, while Da is working, because Those People will kill them like coyotes. But now, with Da unexpectedly gone and no home to return to, a teenage Valley (now Valkyrie) and her big brother must bring their message to the outside world — a not-so-smart place where little boys wear their names on their backpacks and young men don’t pat down strangers before offering a lift. Blythe Woolston infuses her white-knuckle narrative, set in a day-after-tomorrow Montana, with a dark, trenchant humor and a keen psychological eye. Alternating past-present vignettes in prose as tightly wound as the springs of a clock and as masterfully plotted as a game of chess, she ratchets up the pacing right to the final, explosive end.
About the Author
What People are Saying About This
This brief but razor-sharp novel from Woolston (Catch & Release) is as unpredictable as the bomb strapped to the chest of the girl at its center, 15-year-old Valkyrie White...The ambiguities and of-the-moment realism of Woolston’s story muddy the lines between right and wrong, while giving provocative insight into the mindset of those who see modern government as an unnecessary evil.
A chilling exploration of the life, motivations and strategies of a young American suicide bomber...Harrowing and unforgettable.
BLACK HELICOPTERS is that quite remarkable event: a pace-perfect, pitch-perfect thriller that is exquisitely written and deeply thought provoking.
—Tim Wynne-Jones, author of Blink & Caution, a Boston Globe—Horn Book Award winner
This novel wrapped its icy hand around my heart and dragged me in. Admirably restrained, peculiarly fluent, and scary as hell, I read BLACK HELICOPTERS straight through and immediately told everybody I knew about it.
—Ron Koertge, author of Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses
The tension doesn't let up for a minute in this startling, terrifying story. It pulls you along like a rampaging river, then sucks you under.
—Ellen Wittlinger, author of Hard Love, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book
Blythe Woolston is a master of the unexpected. In BLACK HELICOPTERS, Woolston has given us part gripping literary mystery and part heart-racing psychological thriller. Suspenseful, dark and touching this is another winner from Woolston.
—A.S. King, author of Everybody Sees the Ants and Please Ignore Vera Dietz, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
How often do we want to admit that our heroes or heroines are the bad guys? It's always been a struggle for me to view the main character as the one in the wrong or the one with any faults at all. Blythe Woolston really increases that struggle as she tells Valkyrie White's thrilling story. Black Helicopters chronicles what brings Valley to this present day with revenge on the forefront of her mind and a bomb strapped to her chest. Black Helicopters is considered a literary thriller, mostly because it makes you think about Valley's upbringing and why she makes some of the choices she makes. Her father trained her and her brother, Bo, the ways of life through chess and he taught them how to survive. It's easy to see that their father wasn't a man living an honest life because of all the secrecy and paranoia. Their hiding from the black helicopters actually seemed a very small part of the novel, but it set the foundation for the story's tone: dark and devastating. One thing that I wish this story had was more depth into supporting characters. There weren't many scenes about Valley's brother Bo or Mabby. Sometimes it feels like the story is missing some filling, that information that could provide answers to those many unanswered questions readers will likely have by the end of the book. However, final thoughts about Valkyrie and what happens to her can be inferred from Woolston's writing, which is moving and dramatic. Woolston keeps you on your toes in Black Helicopters. You never know what you'll find out about Valley's life or what might happen next in her story. It's a novel definitely worth reading and afterwards you'll want to explore some of Woolston's other works! *Book provided in exchange for an honest review* Also posted to Lovey Dovey Books
Excellent - several different time periods slowly come together in a dark, sparsely written world of family ties and cult locations. A strong, matter-of-fact heroine tries to reconcile what her parents taught her after one dies and the other disappears. She tries to finish the ultimate mission. Would have liked a little more explanation of the political situation, but that wasn't really the point. A harrowing (and riveting) look at what we hang on to from our childhood.
The Other America: This is a swift, stark, breathtaking little novel. It is a portrait of another America, one that doesn't shop on the same websites as we do, read the same books, pay the same taxes, vote in the same elections, or believe in the same values. Or so they think. The story of Val ends up reminding us that all terrorists consider themselves freedom fighters and believe, and dream of living, in a nation defined by liberty. The book documents the ways in which those notions of liberty divide from ours and how these Americans' pursuit of their dream becomes what is in our eyes monstrous and what is in their eyes necessary. This is urgent, relevant, and honest work. Highly recommended.