Staff Review: "Black Dove White Raven"
This is the story of Emilia and Teo, who are raised as siblings from infancy by their mothers, who were stunt pilots in the 1930s in the U.S. The name of the mothers’ act was Black Dove, White Raven, which refers to Delia (mother of Teo) and Rhoda (mother of Emilia), respectively. The lives of Em and Teo are changed in an instant when a bird strike causes the women’s plane to crash, killing Delia instantly.
Upon her recovery, Rhoda is determined to make Delia’s dream of raising her son in Ethiopia, his late father’s homeland, a reality. Rhoda, Em, and Teo start a new life in Ethiopia, and they adapt to and enjoy life there. This new life is threatened by an increased military threat from Italian military forces gathering along the border. Em and Teo are a formidable team, but they’ve never faced such formidable challenges, and looming dangers may have to be faced alone. Can they survive on their own? "Black Dove White Raven" shares elements with Wein’s previous two books—it is thoughtfully researched and crafted historical fiction populated with resourceful, fiercely loyal characters contending with wrenching choices that must be made in a time of war. The first person narration alternates between Em and Teo and includes school essays, excerpts from their fictional adventures of their alter egos (Black Dove and White Raven), and flight logs. The result is a gripping story that may be difficult to put down. (I read it from beginning to end.) Historical forces may be at work, but the story is driven by well-developed characters and their choices. This is a must-read book for fans of Elizabeth Wein and/or historical fiction, but no prior knowledge of Wein’s other books or the historical context is required.