American Ace, by Marilyn Nelson, tells a story narrated by a teenage boy named Connor, who notices that his father is not himself after Connor's grandmother has died. Connor thinks there is something more to his dad's sadness and discovers that there is. His dad has just learned a family secret that has to do with his biological father. With the clue of a gold ring and pilot wings, Connor works to unravel the mystery about a grandfather he never knew.
Throughout the story we learn about Connor and his dad's relationship as Connor is learning to drive with his dad's help.
The book is about family relationships and self discovery. The story also deals with racism, and we get to learn a lot about the history of Historically Black Colleges and how and when they came about. We learn about the history of the Tuskagee black airmen who were the first African American military in the U.S. armed forces, and how they stood up to racism in the U.S. airforce during World War II.
The story is full of true facts. For example, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt had requested that she be flown by a black pilot to visit the Tuskagee Army Air School in order to make progress for racial equality. Another fact was that in 1948 President Truman integrated the U.S. armed service. I liked how the story was told in a poem format- each chapter was a page long and the story moved along quickly and was interesting. If you like stories about family, racial identity, and historical United States military events, you would enjoy this book.