American Ace by Marilyn Nelson | SLJ Audio Review

redstarNelson, Marilyn. American Ace. 2 CDs. 1:22 hrs. Listening Library. 2016. $20. ISBN 9780147525772. digital download.  American Ace by Marilyn Nelson

Gr 4-6 –When Connor’s grandmother dies, she leaves his father a ring, a pair of pilot’s wings, and a letter explaining that the man who raised Connor’s father was not his biological father. With his father paralyzed by depression, Connor takes the two mementoes and the few details available to him and traces his new lineage to the U.S. Air Force, Wilberforce University, and an international DNA map that reveals European, African, and Jewish roots. Nelson narrates her own verses with graceful solemnity. Illuminating her rhythmic reading of Connor’s family’s story is an afterword, aptly titled “How This Book Came To Be, and Why an Older African American Woman Ended Up Writing as a Young White Man,” in which Nelson explores history—personal, national, worldwide—to affirm the surprising human interconnections in our very cells and souls. VERDICT Nelson’s latest deserves shelf space with other astounding verse novels, including Sharon Draper’s Stella by Starlight, Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, and Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out & Back Again. [“Nelson packs a good deal into these verses, and though the subject matter is weighty, she leavens it with humor and deep family affection”: SLJ 12/15 review of the Dial book.]–Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

This review was published in the School Library Journal April 2016 issue.

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