It's the 1930s and young girls, particularly poor ones, have few options. Adele, raised in the dust of granite that her father cuts, can barely think beyond her beloved town of Stony Creek although she rebels at the idea of an arranged marriage her parents are sure to make for her. Then her older brother dies unexpectedly and suddenly Adele has a choice. She cuts her hair, binds her breasts and puts on pants to attend Yale University under her brother's identity.
When I first started reading On Borrowed Wings, a historical fiction, I noticed the impressive writing, plot and character devleopment. I like Chandra Prasad's vivid descriptions and analogies. She's developed a well thought-out character in Adele who grew throughout the book--always a must for me to like a novel. Although the idea of a girl pretending to be a boy has been done many times, (Shakespeare's As You Like It and Barbara Streisand's Yentl come to mind) it's still an intriquing concept. Then there's added layers of interest in the mother-daughter relationship, the coming-of-age story, and the societal pressures and expectations for gender and class of that era.
What particularly captured my imagination was pondering what women could do given their limited options of the time. And as always, when I read books related to this subject, I wonder what I would have done had I lived then. Would I have had Adele's courage to try a different life? Would my hunger for knowledge and equality enable me push through boundaries? Would I have been depressed or suicidal? I am so thankful for the women who have gone before us and fought for the choices that I am allowed today.
I enjoyed many parts of the book, but then some scenes that seemed thrown in to elicit strong reactions for the sake of reactions and not for story or character development, turned me off. It's kinda like adding gratuitous flesh or violence in a movie to get an R-rating. That's just not my cup of tea.
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