Before I go into sharing my old review, for a book that was out in 2015, I wanted mention that if the title doesn’t change, it appears that Michele Young- Stone will have a new novel out in April of 2018, “Lost In The Beehive” and from the summary on goodreads, it has me hungry to read it. A girl living with the hum of bees? Fortune tellers, love, sent to an institute that promises to ‘cure’ people and make them ‘better’. From New Jersey to New York and the swamps of North Carolina- can April come sooner? If you get a chance, head to goodreads.com and add it your reading list, there isn’t a cover to share yet but the book is on there!
“When I was born, the doctor said, “I’m sorry.”
This is the review I shared in 2015, my greedy little bookworm hands had stumbled on an arc a few years ago (2014) and while I wasn’t officially reviewing it back then, I still gushed about it. I have a love of novels about immigrants (because of my own family history) maybe too from living outside the country with my own husband and children through the years. You sprinkle some magical realism in there, and I’ll devour it. There is just something special about Prudence and her ‘ghost’ wings. “On September 10, 1973, my wings were surgically removed. They weren’t biopsied, stored in formaldehyde, or shipped to a freak show. They were discarded as medical waste.” That line stayed with me, loaded as a gun. ‘Discarded as medical waste.’ My review follows.
Oh so good. I picked this arc up hoping it would be the sort of magical realism that would fill the reader up and it does. So many emotions between the pages of this beautiful story about a young girl, Prudence Vilkas, who is born with wings just like her paternal great Aunt. Her parents have them removed, but the wings have a way of showing themselves to a certain boy with a special sight. The wings themselves, or scars of them, will bring to life the story of her estranged Lithuanian paternal Grandfather, Frederick. This isn’t light and sweet, as the reader is buried in the brutal suffering of her ancestors during the occupation. Having my own father and grandparents escaping Hungary during the Russian occupation there, I could relate to the sorrows. From Soviets to Nazis, where is the lesser of two evils for those deemed inferior? This story is so tender and full of loss, particularly the distance her grandfather feels towards his own son, spoiled in the ways only American freedoms can afford the children of immigrants. But the young can only live their own story, and while tragedy can cling to a family and cause rifts, too it can bring them back together.
Prudence’s mother leaves her father, never having felt first in his life as music is his love. Family is no longer the three of them, and now Prudence is adrift longing for the warmth and love, wondering why her mother couldn’t just be happy loving. A boy will change her life, the only person who sees the wings that were removed long ago, but he too may drift away from her. Little does she know, fate is going to bring her grandfather into her life, a man she will come to love deeply. The story expresses how with each loss, it is replaced by other love, and some people are never entirely lost to us in the end.
The tragic truths that Frederick has known about his murdered family are about to change when he demands a chance to know his grandchild, in spite of what his own son and the child’s mother wants. Family is what matters!
This novel is more than just a sweet story about a unique girl with winged ancestors, it is magical realism with history and makes it much better than so many ‘magical’ stories out there. This may be one of my favorite reads of the year!
Originally published March 2015 by Simon Schuster
Available now- this is an author to watch!