Friday, July 13, 2012

Me on The Girl with Borrowed Wings

Title: The Girl with Borrowed Wings
Author: Rinsai Rossetti
Release Date: July 19, 2012
Publisher: Dial (Penguin imprint)

Controlled by her father and bound by the desert, Frenenqer's life is tedious, until a small act of rebellion blasts her world wide open. She meets not just any boy but a Free person, a shapeshifter free to live where and how he desires. He has everything she doesn't. No family, no attachments, no rules. At night he whisks her off to far-off places where each spent their childhood, but when the delicate balance of the friendship between them threatens to become something more, Frenenqer must decide what choice to make, to stay the imagined creation of her father's or break free.

The Girl with Borrowed Wings is as intriguing and complicated as its narrator. This book is the story of a girl waiting at the edge of her cage, waiting for the bars to rust away, and then she meets someone who blows the door on the other side wide open. A curious look at the world and how we view freedom, even with a narrator that at times confused me.

Frenenqer is interesting. Yes, she's controlled by her father's rules, and yes, she has nowhere to run to escape her life, but after she meets the boy (who has a name but I'm not going to say what it is) she's so quick to rebel, to head off to distant lands at night and escape her cage for a few hours. Perhaps she always had spirit, was always ready to rebel once she was given the opportunity. It took me a moment or two to realize that Frenenqer's spirit was not crushed by her father, but that she was only waiting, like an animal in a cage pretending to be tame and waiting for that split second when the cage door will open so it can run free. One thing Frenenqer does not lack is spirit.

Her relationship with the Free person is complicated. She's initially wary, but then she's almost too easy with him, too relaxed. All of her shields come down around him, possibly because he gives her what she craves: freedom from the desert.

One thing Frenenqer and the boy have in common is the lack of attachments. She has no love for her father or mother, nothing beyond the standard familial affection she's obligated to feel, and even that is barely visible. She had no friends, no one at school, apart from one girl who is more like her secretary than her friend. Her desire to find her own freedom has left her with the inability to connect with the people around her. It makes her relationship with the boy complex and complicated, makes her extremely stubborn. It confused me on how hard it was for her to connect with people on an emotional level. But it's not just her fault, her father is more like a caretaker. An inventor who imagined such a creation in his head, seeing her as not a child but an idea realized, something to form and mold and shape instead of nurture or care for.

I'm curious if the author wrote this as a critique on the world. I can see Frenenqer as the human being searching for freedom and purpose in life, having the will but none of the access, and the boy as the means of gaining that freedom, that access, while the father stands nearby as control, as limitations and social norms.

What is freedom? What is love? How do we know when we're ready for either? Even before meeting the boy, Frenenqer knows she'll have to make the choice, to listen to her father and become the invention he dreamed up before she was born, or to find her wings and fly away.

(I received an advance copy from Penguin Canada.)

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