Monday, February 25, 2013

The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti

Frenenqer is the daughter of a very rigid, controlling man. He has crafted a set of rules for who and what she is allowed to be. Being imperfect, as we all are, and having a desire to fly free of his control, Nener often fails him. His punishments are as severe as his control. Her escapes are school where she has a solitary friend and is a good student and her room at home that is loaded with books, until he takes most of them away in anger. Nener's mother spends most of her time hiding in the kitchen, when she appears it is only to treat her harshly as well. They live in an Oasis community somewhere in the Arabic desert. I think that Nener must feel like the girls from many of the girls in the Arab nations, who have few rights. On a surprise rare occasion, father decides Nener and her mother must accompany him to the souk (outdoor market) keeping the proper distance, speed, posture and silence. While father is bargaining at one souk, Nener notices a stack of small cages with animals inside that look to be suffering from the heat. A cat in one cage appears to be near death. When Nener points it out to the vendor, he grabs the cat from the cage and tosses it on a garbage heap. Nener rescues it, against father's wishes with the promise to find it a permanent home once she has nursed it to health. Back in her bedroom, Nener dribbles water into its mouth and gives it a cool place to sleep. During the night she is awakened by a noise and sees her window open and what appears to be someone leaving. Later, when the cat comes back, she discovers she has rescued a free being, shape changer. In talking with it, she shares her longing to fly free. It changes shape several times to find the exact right one and take Nener flying. They visit first, the place her parents met, the many countries Nener has lived in then places he sees as the most beautiful in the world, including a wadi filled with cool water where no human has ever lived and an island in the sky. He shortens her name to Nener, she names him Sangris for he had no name. They travel during the school day, they escape at night. He takes on a shape that is human with wings, Nener's borrowed wings. On the island they meet another free being. Sangris becomes angry. He takes her home and does not return for several days. He cannot live without her nor she without him. When he returns and declares his love, Nener cannot. She is too closed off from living in a home where love is a dirty word. Nener will lose him if she cannot break free of her father's control. Anju, her school friend provides her with a way to do it if she can just find the courage. This is a beautiful, slowly developing romance and true love. The language is lush, painting vivid pictures in one's mind, the setting is exotic. I want to believe there are teens out there who can appreciate this story. It is no beach read. There are no contemporary clothing, makeup. media references. There are no mean girl cliques. Those things I have come so accustomed to seeing in teen lit. JDW2/25

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