Nelson, Marilyn. American Ace
January 12th 2016 by Dial Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
After Connor's grandmother dies, his father is not himself. He mopes around and seems extraordinarily depressed. It turns out that the grandmother has left a letter indicating that Connor's grandfather was actually a WWII pilot. There are a few clues, and Connor and his father try to follow them, until the father has a significant medical episode that lands him in the hospital. Connor finds out that his grandfather was actually a Tuskegee Airman, and that he is one quarter African American. As his father regains his health, Connor learns more and more details about his past, as well as about the role that African-American pilots played in the war, and how they were treated afterwards.
Strengths: We certainly need more books about the Tuskegee Airmen, and the role of African-Americans in the war. This is a short book, and has an appealing cover, so I think that students would pick it up.
Weaknesses: Novels in verse are particularly ill-suited to historical topics, because they don't give as much background information as may be needed. I am super, super picky about novels in verse, and this one didn't have the scansion and poetic elements that make a book "poetic" for me. The subject matter didn't support the use of blank verse, either. Also, unless this book was set in the 1990s, the timeline of having a teenager in 2015 having a grandfather who fought in WWII didn't work for me. Well, it did barely.
What I really think: I'll probably buy this, because there is still an overwhelming interest in WWII, but I really wish it weren't in verse!