A “gripping, heartwarming” (Bookpage) novel about a family separated by oceans, generations, and war, but connected by something much greater—the gift of wings.
On March 29, 1973, Prudence Eleanor Vilkas was born with heart-shaped wings pressed accordion-style against her back. Considered a birth defect, her wings were surgically removed, leaving only the ghost of them behind.
In 1980, Prudence’s mother takes her from Nashville to Florida, to a town inhabited by people who have run as far as they can without fins or wings. In this new town, Prudence is befriended by a boy who can see what others can’t, including Prudence’s ghostly wings.
The unexpected and unimaginable bubble up from the depths of the Atlantic to confront Prudence when she meets her long-estranged Lithuanian grandfather and discovers a miraculous lineage beating and pulsing with past Lithuanian bird-women, storytellers with wings dragging the dirt, survivors perched on radio towers, lovers lit up like fireworks and heroes disguised as everyday men and women.
Above Us Only Sky spans the 1863 January Uprising against Russian Tsarist rule in Eastern Europe to the fall of the Berlin Wall and Lithuania’s independence in 1991. It is a “daring, imaginative” (Milepost magazine) story of mutual understanding between the old and young; it is a love story, a story of survival, and most importantly, a story about disovering where we belong in the world.
Young-Stone seamlessly balances Lithuanian history with magical realism in this “amazing, spellbinding, incredible journey” (Literary Hoarders).
This charming if somewhat too neatly packaged novel begins with the birth of a winged girl, then takes flight through time to tell a family saga of the girl's Lithuanian and German ancestors, some of whom were bird women. Prudence Eleanor Vilkas's wings were cut from her back at a young age, but she feels their uncanny presence as she grows up. She flirts with death as a teenager but is saved from drowning by a ghostly bird woman, whose eyes are exactly the same green as her own. Young-Stone (The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors) employs breathless prose, full of magical happenings and terror, as she travels back and forth through history, recounting the trials of Prudence's grandfather, the Old Man, whose family was slaughtered by the Red Army; her grandmother, whose own mother was raped and murdered by the Russians; and the Old Man's youngest sibling, Daina, who survives being assaulted and left for dead. The imaginative and vivid storytelling is commendable, but her orchestration of the convergence of all these lost loved ones into a happy ending is too predictable. The coincidences required to tie up all the loose ends strain belief, and do not do justice to those past horrors described so vividly.