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On Borrowed Wings: A Novel by Chandra Prasad

On Borrowed Wings: A Novel (edition 2007)

by Chandra Prasad (Author)

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633312,026 (3.75)3
Enrolling at Yale as her dead brother, Charles, Adele Pietra assumes his identity - and gender - as a way to leave behind her mother's expectations and the limitations of her small town. Through her work with a eugenics proffessor and her friendship with a local Italian family, Adele confronts her class and ethnicity as never before.… (more)
Title:On Borrowed Wings: A Novel
Authors:Chandra Prasad (Author)
Info:Atria Books (2007), Edition: 1st Atria Books Hardcover Ed, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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On Borrowed Wings: A Novel by Chandra Prasad



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Oh the soul in this story! Wonderful writing and personal suspense with insightful observations. Adele is intelligent, curious, full of dreams like her father, and determined to go places and escape her childhood poverty. Through fortuitous events, she becomes a male student at Yale. Will she be found out?

Her three closest male friends at Yale take her along on youthful adventures, pranks, and experiences she couldn't have imagined. She learns much, gives much, hides much and grows. Her spirit and sense of ethics produce other sticky situations. How long can she conceal her real identity?

Adele, as Charlie, comes to terms with her relationship with each family member and matures. She finds a life calling, something she loves to do, and is forced to make tough decisions along the way.

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  Rascalstar | Jan 21, 2017 |
Prasad's well-researched and beautifully crafted novel is a trip into the not-so-distant past. The heroine, Adele, undergoes multiple transformations in her freshman year as the first (disguised) woman student at Yale University. Although flawed, her journey from small-town Connecticut to the hallowed halls of one of America's most prestigious institutions of higher learning. How fortunate I was to stumble across a copy of this rather obscure novel! Although rather a short book, it covers themes of homosexuality, racism, sexism, poverty and the elite, recession, death, and the search for one's own identity - all in 1930s/1940s New England! ( )
  Audacity | Jun 29, 2010 |
Reviewed by Marta Morrison for TeensReadToo.com

The year is 1936. In the small town of Stony Creek there lives a family of four. There is the mother, a washer woman who used to be a privileged daughter of a professor until she married the father, an Italian quarry man. They had two children, a boy, Charles, and a daughter, Adele.

Charles is the apple of his mother's eye and is being groomed to go to Yale on scholarship. Adele is her father's favorite and her mom is preparing her to be the wife of a quarry man and a laundress. The problem is that Adele is smarter than her brother.

This would have been the path that they would have taken except that Charles and his father are killed in a quarry accident. Adele then disguises herself as a boy and takes Charles's place at the all-male college of Yale. Once there, Adele has to adapt to being a boy, take on a eugenics professor who is trying to prove that all immigrants are unintelligent, and try to be an average freshman in college.

She befriends three other boys and an Italian family that almost adopts her. She proves to be very brave and spunky. There is also a visit by Emelia Earhart to the college, which is a wonderful scene.

I absolutely loved this book. The main characters of Adele and her mother, Gertie, are interesting and many-layered. It left me wanting more. I want to know how Adele becomes Adele again. If she finds love with the rascally Wick. Does she ever reunite with her mother and her mother's family? How will World War II affect the lives of these characters? Believe me, you'll want to know, too! ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 12, 2009 |
Originally posted to http://j-kaye-book-blog.blogspot.com/

Have you ever fallen in love with a book so deeply that you wanted to keep it and read it again and again? Maybe this is a normal occurrence for you, not so for me. I am a love 'em and leave 'em reader. Once the last page is read, I am on to my next conquest. That was until I read "On Borrowed Wings".

This book moved me beyond words. I'll admit, I was a bit surprised. The book is unpretentious. But when you read the pages, this matches to perfection with the main character, Adele Pierta.

The author places the reader in the middle of the character's quandary, which is to marry a quarryman. In the 1930s, the little town of Stony Creek had three classes of people. There were the cottagers, who were rich vacationers that visit the little Connecticut town from May to August. There were the townsmen, the town's merchants and businessmen. And last were the quarrymen. They worked twelve hour days, six days a week mining granite.

Adele's mother had once been a cottager. But when she married a quarryman, her family disowned her. This rejection drove her mother to educate Adele's brother so that he'd have chance to go to college and not end up a quarryman. Adele's father insisted both his children be educated, but there weren't many opportunities for women.

The same day Charles, Adele's brother, receives an acceptance letter to Yale, a freak mining accident takes his life along with their father. Rather than be forced into an early marriage, she changes her appearance to look like a man and goes to Yale in Charles's place.

"On Borrowed Wings", so appropriately titled, is the story of Adele's first year at Yale. She transforms from a shy, wispy girl into a force to be reckoned with. It's a true treasure of a book and I'll be adding it to my 2007 Most Favorites List!

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  judithkaye | Nov 13, 2007 |
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Enrolling at Yale as her dead brother, Charles, Adele Pietra assumes his identity - and gender - as a way to leave behind her mother's expectations and the limitations of her small town. Through her work with a eugenics proffessor and her friendship with a local Italian family, Adele confronts her class and ethnicity as never before.

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