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American Ace by Marilyn Nelson

American Ace

by Marilyn Nelson

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Nelson approached writing this book by directing it at young readers who never heard of the Tuskegee Airmen. The book and topic are approachable with each chapter taking one page. Readers unfamiliar with the Tuskegee Airmen may be inspired by the text and four photographs to pursue further information. An author's note explains her inspiration. ( )
  Salsabrarian | May 15, 2016 |
Connor Bianchini is sixteen years old when his grandmother dies and he discovers that his grandfather isn't his biological grandfather. His grandmother had had a relationship with an American soldier, known only as Ace, stationed in Italy during WW2. Armed with only his grandmother's letter, a class ring, and a pair of wings, Connor tries to find out more about his family's history.

It turns out that Connor's grandfather is an African-American pilot and part of the Tuskegee Airmen. Or, at least, he presumably is. Connor is never able to find out exactly who his grandfather is, although there are a couple of possibilities. An oddly-specific DNA test confirms that Connor's father is indeed part African American (so specific that it is able to differentiate Great Britain from Ireland and Benin from the Congo...I don't think that is possible yet).

Anyway, although it was a little disappointing to not have closure at the end of the book, I still thought that it was a good read.

The book is short - only 123 pages, and about half of those are blank except for a few words. The remainder of the book is written in verse, which makes the book go by even faster. I would have enjoyed a longer book, but I really liked what was written. Connor isn't an annoying narrator, and he seems very real and relatable.

No one seems upset that Connor's grandmother kept her first son's parentage a secret. One person seemed a little put out when it was revealed that the biological father was African-American, but that only lasted for a page. I found this a bit unrealistic, but maybe Connor's family is super progressive? I just know if this had been my family, unfortunately a lot of racism would have come out. :/

I would recommend this book to younger YA readers (ages 12-14), especially those interested in American history. Even as an adult, however, I enjoyed this book. ( )
  schatzi | Jan 19, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803733054, Hardcover)

This riveting novel in verse, perfect for fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Toni Morrison, explores American history and race through the eyes of a teenage boy embracing his newfound identity
Connor’s grandmother leaves his dad a letter when she dies, and the letter’s confession shakes their tight-knit Italian-American family: The man who raised Dad is not his birth father.
But the only clues to this birth father’s identity are a class ring and a pair of pilot’s wings. And so Connor takes it upon himself to investigate—a pursuit that becomes even more pressing when Dad is hospitalized after a stroke. What Connor discovers will lead him and his father to a new, richer understanding of race, identity, and each other.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 17 Dec 2015 15:48:51 -0500)

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