Stateless cover
Stateless by Elizabeth Wein

By Elizabeth Wein
Little, Brown, 2023
400 pages

Age 12 and older

Stella North, 17 (white), the only female contestant in Europe’s first air race for young people, represents Britain; she prefers no one know she escaped the Russian Revolution as a young child. The August, 1937, race aims to promote peace and unity at a time when fascism is rising in Europe. The other pilots fly for Germany, Italy, Poland, France, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands. A wealthy British woman race organizer and two experienced WWI fighter pilots from Germany and France are among the chaperones. Stella’s first meeting with bristly Tony Roberts, the pilot representing France, is both exhilarating and unsettling; it’s soon clear that he’s also harboring secrets about his past. The first race day, Stella sees a plane seemingly attacked by another before crashing into the ocean. The organizers are skeptical of her report until the Italian contestant never arrives at the first layover. As Stella tries to unravel the truth behind the attack and other acts of sabotage, the political landscape impacts the calculus of whom she suspects and whom she can trust. She finds some surprising allies among the other competitors even as the safety of a few of them is more and more uncertain. Realizing that surviving the race, not winning it, is the real challenge, Stella is determined they’ll all make it through alive. Gradually revealed backstories add depth to characters and their burgeoning relationships, while danger on the ground and in the air heightens tension in this riveting work of historical fiction. ©2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center