Available now from Dial (Penguin)
Right now, I feel very unaccomplished. Rinsai Rossetti is currently twenty one and wrote the first draft of THE GIRL WITH BORROWED WINGS when she was eighteen. I'm twenty three and have yet to write anything as beautiful or as wonderful as Rossetti's debut.
Frenenqer Paje lives the way her father wants her to live. He dreamed of a perfect, submissive, quiet daughter and Frenenqer will be that girl no matter her natural inclinations. He keeps her in her room except for when she goes to the local English-speaking school where she gets a low-quality education. She couldn't really go out if she wanted to, since the streets of the oasis (in an unnamed Middle Eastern country) aren't safe for a lone teen girl. Frenenqer tries to stay within the bounds, escaping only through her books and a dream that she was supposed to be born with wings and she can feel the phantom of them on her back.
Then she meets a boy without a name, a Free person, unbound by any rules. He can shapeshift and travel between worlds and he can take Frenenqer flying. Soon she names him Sangris and he calls her Nenner, a name much lighter than the one of her father's expectations. But as the two grow closer, they become quarrelsome. Frenenqer is afraid to step outside of her father's rules, as well as the rules of society, and Sangris pushes her to ignore them all. Above all else, Sangris is free, and he fears the limits of Nenner's affections.
It's girl-meet-boy filtered through the fantastical lens of magical realism and told in Rossetti's gorgeous, poetic prose. But in addition to the romance, it's Frenenqer's discovery of herself.
"I'm young!" I shouted at him in exhilaration.I liked that Frenenqer's dialogue, as well as that of her long-suffering friend Anju, are in a modern vernacular unlike the narration. It emphasizes her youth and that she's not truly a prim lady, even before Sangris (and Anju) force her to stop denying her dreams for herself. It complements the narration rather than clashing with it.
His gaze flickered over me. From my free-flying hair -- I became very aware of it as soon as he looked at it; I felt it lifting off the base of my neck where the spine is tender, and streaming out behind me in tendrils -- to the tightness of my stomach -- I realized for the first time that I had a narrow waist and hips rather than the straight lines of my childhood; when had that happened? -- and down to the legs. At that point he pulled his gaze back up to my face. "Yeah," he said. "Didn't you know?"
-p. 63-4, ARC
THE GIRL WITH BORROWED WINGS is one epic romance. One moment the atmosphere is cramped and stifling; next, there's a lush description of Nenner and Sangris's travels. There's sophisticated storytelling and a heroine who is just seventeen and well aware of own immaturity. It's the struggle between control and chaos. Do not miss Rossetti's debut. THE GIRL WITH BORROWED WINGS is a story of startling power and beauty.