Review – Black Dove, White Raven

Black Dove, White Raven – Elizabeth Wein

Electric Monkey, 2015

Stunt pilots Delia and Rhoda, better known as Black Dove and White Raven, are fearless in the air, taking their aerial show all over America. Two young mothers with a love of adventure, they couldn’t more alike – until they touch the ground, because Delia and her son Teo are black while Rhoda and her daughter Emilia are white. The two children grow up like siblings, but the world is always trying to pull them apart. When Delia dies in a terrible accident, Rhoda becomes committed to fulfilling her dream: raising the children in Ethiopia, the land of Teo’s father, making a space for her family under the vast African sky. As Teo and Emilia grow older, however, the shadow of war begins to stretch over their home. Even in the sky, they won’t be safe.

I feel I should probably qualify, this is not Delia and Rhoda’s story – Teo and Emilia turn their mothers’ show names into a shared story they write together, so the title is actually about them. Elizabeth Wein has written two previous books in what is a very loose sort of series focusing on fictional aviators of World War II, the first being Code Name Verity and the second Rose Under Fire. Both were compelling, intelligent and quite shattering to read. Of the three, Black Dove, White Raven is the only one I think belongs in the YA genre – the main characters are younger and the story is less devastatingly explicit about the atrocities of war. Which is not to say there isn’t the same scrupulous attention to detail and that terrible things don’t happen, only that there is a little bit more distance from those things. As always, Wein writes an incredibly moving and readable story. I can’t wait for the next one.

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