The Girl With Borrowed Wings

( 8 )


A stunningly written tale of an isolated girl and the shape-shifting boy who shows her what freedom could be—if only she has the courage to take it

Controlled by her father and bound by desert, Frenenqer Paje’s life is tediously the same, until a small act of rebellion explodes her world and she meets a boy, but not just a boy—a Free person, a winged person, a shape-shifter. He has everything Frenenqer doesn’t. No family, no attachments, no rules. At night, he flies them to the ...

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The Girl With Borrowed Wings

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A stunningly written tale of an isolated girl and the shape-shifting boy who shows her what freedom could be—if only she has the courage to take it

Controlled by her father and bound by desert, Frenenqer Paje’s life is tediously the same, until a small act of rebellion explodes her world and she meets a boy, but not just a boy—a Free person, a winged person, a shape-shifter. He has everything Frenenqer doesn’t. No family, no attachments, no rules. At night, he flies them to the far-flung places of their childhoods to retrace their pasts. But when the delicate balance of their friendship threatens to rupture into something more, Frenenqer must confront her isolation, her father, and her very sense of identity, breaking all the rules of her life to become free.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rossetti was a teenager when she wrote this novel, and her connection to the stifling constraints, torn emotions, and dazzling first tastes of freedom and power that are synonymous with coming-of-age make this first novel shine. Of Thai descent, 17-year-old Frenenqer Paje has grown up under the thumb of her coldly overbearing father; they currently live in a desert oasis in the Middle East where Frenenqer attends a private school for expatriates. When she disobeys her father by rescuing a mistreated cat, her life changes dramatically. The cat is actually a shape-shifting "Free person" named Sangris who, without any rules to bind him, is Frenenqer's polar opposite. By night, he flies Frenenqer around the world to places both real and magical, slowly chipping away at the defenses she has built up to withstand her father's callous cruelty. Despite Frenenqer's apparent lack of agency, she is actually strong, willful, passionate, and quite funny, and watching her come into her own is thrilling. A breath of fresh air. Ages 12–up. Agent: Danielle Chiotti, Upstart Crow Literary. (July)
The Horn Book
"Exceptional in its originality and in the luminous, funny, elegant quality of its writing. Rossetti moves from quirky, intelligent banter between teens to descriptions of sunshine, landscapes, and bodies, evoking a sharp, clear sensuality....Rossetti raises the bar for current romantic fantasies."
The New York Times
"A frankly spellbinding love story."
"A premise that's unique among the stacks of paranormal romances...Feels like a breeze in the desert."
"As symbolic as it is magical: the possibilities presented by Sangris and his wings have the same sort of reckless freedom that often accompanies first love, heedless of the rules of the regular world."
The Los Angles Times
"Eye opening and inspiring"
USA Today's Happy Ever After
"The Girl With Borrowed Wings stands in a category of its own making. . . .Rossetti's style hearkens back to Margaret Atwood's literary prowess with humanity's frailties, edgy humor and limitless imagination. . . .Different, quirky, memorable for all the right reasons."
Booklist (starred review)
"A premise that's unique among the stacks of paranormal romances...Feels like a breeze in the desert."
VOYA - Lucy Schall
Seventeen-year-old Freneqer Paje recalls a tumultuous year in which she abandons the rule-driven life of her abusive, controlling father and opens herself to the passionate world of her shape-shifter lover. Freneqer lives on a bleak, exotic oasis in a city that her father designed. He is also creating Freneqer: how she holds her spoon, closes a door, or pronounces words. Her first rebellious act is rescuing a dying cat. The cat is a "Free Person," a shape-shifter without rules or boundaries. At night he sprouts wings, and they fly to all the places they have lived. He loves her, but physical love repulses Freneqer. She rejects him. He continues to follow Freneqer's life through her friend Anju, who persuades Freneqer to find her own wings or independence by telling her father that she loves him. The declaration breaks his hold and allows Freneqer to open herself to love. The story explores the complicated relationship between freedom and restriction with heavy symbolism. Most teens will question the long build to the first kiss in chapter seventeen and Freneqer's rejection of it. Anju, Freneqer's friend whose insights unite the lovers, transforms almost too quickly from Freneqer's personal secretary to her wise life counselor. This multicultural, coming-of-age, romantic fantasy will appeal to a small audience of mostly females sophisticated enough to appreciate the extreme restrictions of other cultures and the necessity of personal choice to overcome them. Reviewer: Lucy Schall
Kirkus Reviews
Her name--Frenenqer--means "restraint" in "some language or other," and she is the only child--creation, really--of a man for whom affection is unspeakable: Pfft. Expatriates, Frenenqer and her parents have lived many places but called none of them home. The teen's world now is comprised of three boxes: her family's apartment, her school and the car that takes her from one to the other within the dusty, isolated oasis. When, much to her father's displeasure, Frenenqer rescues a large cat she finds caged in the souk, she liberates a "Free person," a shape-shifting being "born without rules." His are the wings she "borrows," when he nightly takes her in his arms and flies her around the world and into the realms of the Free people. With Sangris, Frenenqer feels free for the first time in her life--but can freedom accommodate love? Rossetti's lush language is highly metaphorical and often sensuous, befitting the unfurling of Frenenqer's stunted soul: "And when I came back up the air was still fresh and calm-smelling,…and the palm trees rustled in faint applause." Her earthy, often funny exchanges with Sangris represent freedom for both Frenenqer and readers from her cold, controlling father, whose "words have a way of shaping the world around him." Infused with an urgent hope, this glimmering love story exhilarates and refreshes. (Magical realism. 12 & up)
The New York Times Book Review
…in The Girl With Borrowed Wings, a frankly spellbinding love story, Rinsai Rossetti shows the power of fantasy when it coincides with, rather than opposes, what may be a grim reality…Rossetti…writes about obstacles nearly all young adults face, whether their sense of displacement is geographical or otherwise: how to create an identity while maintaining a sense of belonging, particularly when it involves forging intimate relationships. As they search for answers to their own daunting questions about identity and love, or for an escape from such queries altogether, it's hard not to imagine teenagers falling for this enchanting fantasy. In her beautifully rendered tale, Rossetti proves fantasy and reality can indeed coexist.
—Shirley LaVarco
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Rigidly controlled by her father and striving desperately to be the perfect daughter he envisions, Frenenqer Paje, 17, moves through her overprotected life in a state of numb obedience and boredom. The stifling culture and heat of the desert oasis where she lives makes any rebellious behavior futile, but her spirit is bigger than she realizes. When she disobeys her father and rescues an abused cat from an Animal Souk, she changes her life. No ordinary feline, Sangris is a Free person, a shape-shifter not bound by rules. Though the idea of it nearly paralyzes her with fear, Frenenqer can't resist Sangris's offer to take her somewhere-anywhere-and the two set off to visit the places where they have lived throughout their nomadic lives. Sangris, who can grow wings at a whim, transforms himself into a gargoyle at first, because Frenenqer is so timid about touching a member of the opposite sex. But as their friendship grows, she is more and more attracted to the handsome, nearly human form he assumes around her. Sangris realizes that complete freedom can be lonely, and that he wants more than camaraderie. When he presses the issue, Frenenqer ends their friendship. With the guidance of a remarkable friend, she hits upon a clever solution to soften her father's rules. And once her issues with him begin to resolve, she finds that she can reach out to Sangris as more than a friend. Told in lush, beautiful language that explores the minutiae of expression and feeling of two lost souls, this novel will resonate with readers experiencing the first flush of desire and the confusion it brings.—Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803735668
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/19/2012
  • Pages: 300
  • Sales rank: 575,486
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.94 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Rinsai Rossetti has lived in Thailand, Canada, Italy, America, the UAE, and other countries. She has completed two years at Dartmouth and lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, and the United Arab Emirates.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2012

    Amazeing book

    The main reason for me to even look at this book was the cover. Befor even knowing what it was about i knew it would be interesting. And from the moment i started reading it i couldnt put it down. I simpley fell in love with the characters and is one of the better books i've read so far. Absoulutly recomend this book. Simpley amazeing

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2012

    Loved it

    Adventure,Love,And action fantastic book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2012

    I don't often give 5-star reviews, but THE GIRL WITH BORROWED WI

    I don't often give 5-star reviews, but THE GIRL WITH BORROWED WINGS is one of the most heart-touching, gut-wrenching, beautifully written books I've read. Ever. And I've read a lot of books. It will be one of those books I read again and again until the cover is worn and pages tattered. The chapter, IN WHICH I JUMP OUT THE WINDOW, is what totally did me in. Throughout the book I vacillated between feeling extreme sympathy for Frenenqer "Nenner" Paje because of the repressive conditions under which she lives and, as a grown woman living in the Western world, wanting to shake some sense in to her. But it's her best friends Anju and Sangris who are able, bit by bit, to lift Frenenqer's metaphorical shroud and reveal the "Nenner" underneath so that she is free to live and love.

    Buy it. Read it. Love it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Loved this beautiful story so much

    Before I started The Girl With Borrowed Wings, my sole reason for wanting to read it was the cover. It easily lured me in, and I couldn't stop thinking about what kind of story could be inside a book with such a vibrant and gorgeous cover. Reading the summary made my curiosity grow even more. There are tons of books out there with amazing covers but with stories that don't live up to their covers' greatness. I had a good feeling about The Girl With Borrowed Wings though, and while it took some time for me to fall in love completely, it ended up being much more satisfying than I expected. The main character Frenenqer was a complicated character. It's almost hard to describe her. Although she acted docile around her father to please him, she wasn't timid and spineless in the least. She desired freedom above all else. The thing was, if she truly had the chance to be free, would she actually take it? And because of the way her parents treated her, she lacked certain emotions. Or she believed she wasn't capable of certain emotions. Like love. It made her seem like she was uncaring of others, but deep down she knew she cared. It made her a really frustrating person at times. There were some moments where I wanted to shake some sense into her because I believed she was being completely unfair. But I understood why she acted the way she did. And there were some moments where I wanted to hug and comfort her. So, it all balanced out, and I grew to really admire her character. Her relationship with Sangris was the highlight of the novel for me. It was the reason why I fell in love with this book. Sangris is a Free person. Free people are capable of shape-shifting and traveling to any world they want. Although Free people tend to keep to themselves, Sangris wasn't afraid or uncomfortable to let Frenenqer in. He was an open book with her and couldn't help hanging around. He was fascinated and curious, even though Nenner (his nickname for her) was cold to him a lot of the time. After he started taking her to exotic cities and worlds so that she could experience freedom, it was clear that he had feelings for her. And that underneath all that sarcasm and mischievousness Sangris was really sweet and loved deeply. He was capable of all the feelings Frenenqer lacked, and he helped her see what she was missing. It was strange that, although their personalities and views were different, they still were able to understand each other in a way that no one else did. It was a special bond. I wish I could go on and on about them, especially Sangris, but just know that they were perfect together and their interactions with each other were my favorite parts of the novel. As I got closer and closer to the end of The Girl With Borrowed Wings, I was not only scared of what would happen but also sad that it was almost over. I didn't want it to end. Thankfully the ending didn't destroy my heart like I feared, and I could see just how much Frenenqer had changed. It was wonderful to read. The Girl With Borrowed Wings was just the type of story that I needed to read. While I can't say everyone will fall in love with this book the way I did, I thought the story ended in a way that everyone could appreciate. It brought a huge smile to my face and got me close to tears. It was a story that resulted in pure happiness and love, and one that I can't recommend enough.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer


    This is one of those books that readers will either love or...not. It's well written with fully developed characters who are interesting and engaging but the overall story itself was a tough one. Frenenqer, or "Nenner" is a prisoner in her life and while she has a quiet strength, she's so walled off emotionally that she's unable to really "live". She has her father to thank for that and the man gives new meaning to the word, "over-bearing". He's abusive emotionally (and eventually physically) to both she and her mother and I wished him dead throughout most of the book. <-- not nice to say but still. Sangris - the Free Person she rescues, offers much needed comic relief and there's such a sweetness about him that it was painful to read at times. He's nothing like I expected and I was unsure for a good bit of the book if he was even real or just a figment of Nenner's imagination - like a coping mechanism. (I loved him though in whatever shape he showed up in.) Nenner has a LOT to deal with in this book and she was incredibly frustrating to me. It seemed to take a long time for her to get her act together and then once she did, poof, it was over. The last couple of chapters were the best part but then like I said, it ended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    The description for this book is what initially drew me in; it s

    The description for this book is what initially drew me in; it sounded
    so different, and entirely unique in a setting I'm always interested in
    reading about - the desert. But I was surprised at how different this
    book ended up being- both from others I've read and it even varied from
    my expectations. Many of the details are odd and rather strange, but
    if you can get past that you'll uncover a story that is touching in the
    way it deals with brokenness and broken people. And it has so much to do
    with self-discovery. Reasons to Read: 1.A unique fantasy setting: I
    LOVE desert settings; it was one of the reasons I was initially drawn to
    this book and knew it was one I had to give a shot. It wasto read about
    the Free people, and this strange oasis land with its own culture so
    different from the ones I'm familiar with. And it really played an
    important role in the story, as the setting was crucial to Freneqer's
    situation and her sense of isolation and feeling trapped. 2.A
    beautiful story about broken people: The description makes it sound
    like a love story- and to an extent it is about love, but not fully in
    the way you initially think of love. It's more about Frenequer's journey
    to discover what love really means - in a life filled with broken,
    bitter, cold people. This is what made the book so amazing, in my eyes.
    To show how much bravery it can take to act in love towards those who
    have hurt you, to be courageous yourself and learn what love means later
    on in life. Thisfined to the desert or to a fantasy book- it's one that
    exists in all of our lives in one way or another. The problem was it
    wasn't until later on in the book, well into the second half of it, that
    I finally started to feel connected to the story. And the world, while
    unique and fascinating, simply didn't have enough answers or
    explanations for me to really grasp the story. I had so many questions
    regarding Free people, and barely any were answered. And Frenequer's
    background and past itself was rather hidden- for a purpose, I think,
    but I had really hoped for a fuller explanation by the end which I found
    lacking. It's fairly glossed over and I found the ending to be rather
    rushed in terms of quick changes for a drastic turnaround. There are
    definitely some issues - the story and characters are VERY odd at times,
    and it can be hard to relate to a world so different from our own and
    without much explanation to better understand it. But it was still an
    extremely beautiful yet dysfunctional story overall. ARC received from
    Penguin Canada for review; no other compensation was received.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2014

    From the moment I first lay eyes on this book I knew I was going

    From the moment I first lay eyes on this book I knew I was going to love it. With its cover beautifully depicting the elegant wonder of the story and its spellbinding summery of the tale written on it, it captured me before I had even read it. My opinion of it has only grown after reading it. It draws you in with it's incredibly interesting story and writing style. I especially liked the concept of a " Free Person ", a shape shifting entity who is not bound by rules or ties from the moment it is born. The author has incredible skill.   

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  • Posted July 10, 2013

    What would you do if you believed that love was a weakness?Frene

    What would you do if you believed that love was a weakness?Frenenqer Paje was created by her father. Everything she does and who she must become is destined by his vision of her. Yet, she feels the beat of wings under her shoulder blades, aching to burst free from her cage whilst flying away to worlds unknown. One day when at the markets of the Middle East, Freneqer rescues a cat near death. This cat is not an ordinary cat at all. Together, Freneqer and Sangris – a Free Person, a shapeshifter, a boy, journey around the world and inside themselves. When one has their life cast for them, is it possible to break free?I really enjoyed this story. It’s definitely off the beaten path and there needs to be more YA like this. Exploring other cultures and creating stories about growing up that teens of all races can relate too. What a refreshing read with a main character that isn’t Caucasian! Finally a setting where English isn’t the main language! It’s written beautifully and true of the surrounding cultures. At times it can be harsh but this is not America and it’s brilliant to read about how other families function. It’s such a touching love story, and doesn’t relate at all to traditional YA. The emotions are real and genuine. You feel the characters learning from one another. Not lusting after each other, but developing feelings based on similarities and longing for a true place to call home. As it’s also a standalone and quite short, it’ll make you thirsty and feeling the pulsing sun through your modest clothing. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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