Review of Stateless

Stateless Stateless
by Elizabeth Wein
Middle School, High School    Little, Brown    400 pp.
3/23  9780316591249    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780316591256    $10.99

Wein’s compulsively readable murder mystery/thriller/romance takes place in Europe in 1937. An airplane race for young aviators has been arranged as an effort to promote peace under the shadow of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco. Seventeen-year-old Stella North is the only female participant; a child refugee from Communist Russia, now a British resident, she’s eager to prove herself as the “Flying English Rose.” On the first day of the race, she witnesses a plane force a fellow contestant to crash fatally into the English Channel; who will be next? As solidarity among the international contestants builds, it becomes clear that one of them is the murderer’s real target. Wein’s (Code Name Verity, rev. 5/12; The Enigma Game, rev. 5/20) familiarity with small planes and her love of aviation give this suspenseful adventure both speed and loft; at the same time, it’s packed with the historical politics and culture of Europe’s pre–World War II era, some of which resonates in our current world, as an appended author’s note addresses. Wein cleverly interweaves gripping storytelling and romance with the sobering, practical damage of combat, of growing up stateless in a disrupted world and knowing that today’s peace is fleeting. Back matter includes a bibliography.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Deirdre Baker
Deirdre F. Baker
Deirdre F. Baker, a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and the Toronto Star, teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto. The author of Becca at Sea (Groundwood), she is currently at work on a sequel—written in the past tense.

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