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On Borrowed Wings: A Novel (Paperback)

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Description


Adele Pietra has heard her mother say that her destiny is carved in the same brilliantly hued granite her father and brother cleave from the Stony Creek mine: she is to marry a quarryman. But when Adele's brother, Charles, dies in a mining accident, Adele sees the chance to change her life. Enrolling at Yale as Charles, Adele assumes his identity -- and gender -- as a way to leave behind her mother's expectations and the limitations of her provincial Connecticut town.

To her own surprise, hair chopped and chest bound, Adele falls in naturally with a lively crew of undergraduates: the Jewish Harry Persky with his slick Manhattan know-how, the quiet and mysterious legacy student Phineas, and the lanky, charismatic Wick. And in many ways, Adele faces her freshman year at Yale as would any undergraduate boy: she dreads invasive PE examinations and looks forward to dances, experiments with cigarettes and reads the classics. Through her work with a questionable eugenics professor and her friendship with a local Italian family, Adele confronts her class and ethnicity as never before, all the while fearing that both her crush on Wick and her mother's well-meaning interventions will put an end to her delicate masquerade.

One part social history, one part comingof-age tale, On Borrowed Wings is an impeccably researched first novel that transports us to 1930s Yale, showing us around through the eyes of an unlikely, appealing female narrator.

About the Author


Chandra Prasad is the originator and editor of -- and a contributor to -- W. W. Norton's Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience, which includes original pieces by Ruth Ozeki, Danzy Senna, and Rebecca Walker. Her other works include the novella Death of a Circus, which Tom Perrotta hails as "narrated with Dickensian verve, a keen eye for historical detail, and lots of heart," and the careers guide Outwitting the Job Market. Prasad is also the author of numerous articles, which have been published by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times Magazine, among others. A graduate of Yale, she lives and works in Connecticut.

Praise For…


"In Adele, Chandra Prasad has created an inspired and timeless heroine whose intelligence, imagination, and determination has you rooting for her from the very first page. Prasad's powerful prose matches the vital, urgent vigor of youth, particularly the bond of friendship. Her novel combines drama and a strong sense of place that provides both a lesson in history and a fine read." -- Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

"Authentically and beguilingly, with admirable daring and wit, Chandra Prasad has written a modern fairy tale that transports her readers to a very particular era and place. She reminds us, importantly, about which things in our world remain constant -- and which have changed so swiftly in so little time." -- Julia Glass, author of Three Junes and The Whole World Over

"On Borrowed Wings is an intriguing and moving debut. Prasad writes with the skill and confidence of an already seasoned author." -- Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban

"Written in spare, elegant prose, this gem of a book is both rhetorically and dramatically compelling. It is, in short, a finely crafted page-turner." -- Jake Halpern, commentator on NPR's All Things Considered and author of Fame Junkies

"In Chandra Prasad's compelling debut novel, Adele Pietra, a poor yet ambitious girl from a Connecticut granite quarry town in the 1930s, assumes the identity of her deceased brother and attends Yale University. Throughout this page turner, Adele faces the normal challenges of freshman year that any undergraduate would: meeting buddies, falling in love, keeping up with schoolwork; except she also carries the burden of keeping her true identity concealed. Prasad develops each character beautifully and we soon begin to think of the intrepid heroine's friends as our own. This coming of age story is a great read and I look forward to reading more of the writer's work in the future." -- Melissa Kagan, Lifetime TV

"A story of race, class, gender, and family -- though you so root for the young woman's dream of ambition that you don't notice until the novel is done. That's great, believable storytelling." -Faith Middleton, NPR's Faith Middleton Show

"On Borrowed Wings is an impressive debut for Chandra Prasad" -- Drew Gallagher, The Free Lance-Star

"In her splendid debut novel On Borrowed Wings, Hamden author Chandra Prasad explores the theme of identity in all its myriad forms -- gender, race, class and ethnicity -- in a poignant tale about a young woman whose fate is forever changed when tragedy takes the lives of her father and brother." -- Patricia D'Ascoli, The New Haven Register


Product Details
ISBN: 9780743297837
ISBN-10: 0743297830
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: September 9th, 2008
Pages: 336
Language: English