Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published March 14, 2023
When Stella North is chosen to represent Britain in Europe’s first air race for young people, she knows all too well how high the stakes are. As the only participating female pilot, it’ll be a constant challenge to prove she’s a worthy competitor. But promoting peace in Europe feels empty to Stella when civil war is raging in Spain and the Nazis are gaining power—and when, right from the start, someone resorts to cutthroat sabotage to get ahead of the competition.
The world is looking for inspiration in what’s meant to be a friendly sporting event. But each of the racers is hiding a turbulent and violent past, and any one of them might be capable of murder…including Stella herself.
I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Wein’s books since first reading CODE NAME VERITY. I missed a few of her books since then, but when I saw that STATELESS was coming out this spring, and that it was about a lady pilot, I had to read it!
This book delivers a rich historical setting in a 1937 Europe still reeling from the first World War. Already, the tension is building toward World War II. The whole story is from Stella’s point-of-view, which I loved.
Stella has both a sharpness and a softness that I really liked. She’s a woman, a rarity in the world of aeroplanes and pilots of her day. She’s aware that everyone from her colleagues to the press to her own family members will treat her differently because of her gender. Sometimes she second-guesses herself. Sometimes she worries about being too emotional. But she also recognizes her strengths and finds ways to create space for herself.
When Stella witnesses one of her fellow race participants attacked by an unidentified plane, she realizes reporting everything she saw may place her own life at risk. Instead, she begins to quietly investigate the other racers and support staff, trying to identify the murderer before he or she has a chance to strike again. That part of the story had me turning pages as quickly as I could. The tension ratchets up so quickly in some scenes. I held my breath as all the pilots gathered, ready to take off from one of their stops. I felt like I couldn’t breathe until I knew they would all escape.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was a little bit less violent than CODE NAME VERITY, but still delivered that same rich historical setting and unforgettable characters. I think Elizabeth Wein’s fans and fans of historical fiction will be absolutely delighted with this one.
Content Notes for Stateless
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Characters are from different countries in Europe. One of the pilots is Jewish.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently. A couple instances of British swear words.
Kissing between boy and girl.
The pilots attend a vigil for a missing comrade. One, a young Jewish man, does not attend the church service as entering a Christian church isn’t permitted per his family/faith.
Pilots discuss battles and a murder case that were recently in the news. Stella sees what appears to be one pilot sabotaging another, causing a fatal crash. Other pilots experience evidence of sabotage in their aircraft. A man shoots multiple people. Multiple planes crash.
At one point, Stella listens to a soldier recount being shot down and gravely injured in an attack.
Characters smoke cigarettes.
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