Above Us Only Sky: A Novel (Hardcover)
My favorite type of fiction is the kind that takes real life and makes it just a little bit more beautiful than it could possibly be. That's exactly what Michele Young- Stone does in Above Us Only Sky, the compelling, unforgettable story of Prudence Vilkas--a girl who was born with wings. Thought to be a birth defect, the wings are removed by the doctors but Prudence is left with tiny scars and the haunting feeling that she is part of something much bigger than she understands.
When she's 16 Prudence meets her grandfather for the first time, and through her relationship with him, the stories of her Lithuanian heritage, and the narratives of the women with wings who came before her, Prudence finds herself. It's a coming of age story about how the struggles and triumphs of the generations before us shape the people that we become, and connect us to the past in some great and inevitable way.
This was truly one of the best books I've read in a long time. It's elements of magical realism, the connection beteween generations, and the beautiful way Young- Stone writes about love, humanity, and survival against the backdrop of the unspeakable horrors of Lithuania's struggle for independence during WWII reminds me very much of my favorite book ever, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. Above Us Only Sky is one of those special books that will stay with you long after you put it down, becomes part of you, and I'm so happy I get to make it my first staff recommendation at BookTowne!— From Jenna's Picks
From the author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, which Library Journal called, “ripe for Oprah or fans of Elizabeth Berg or Anne Tyler,” comes a magical novel about a family of women 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 a pair of wings molded to her back. Considered a birth defect, her wings were surgically removed, leaving only the ghost of them behind.
At fifteen years old, confused and unmoored, Prudence 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. Prudence sets forth on a quest to discover her ancestors, to grapple with wings that only one other person can see, and ultimately, to find out where she belongs.
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 gaining its independence in 1991. It is a story of mutual understanding between the old and young; it is a love story; a story of survival, and most importantly a story about where we belong in the world. This “is a raw, beautiful, unforgettable book” (Lydia Netzer, bestselling author of Shine, Shine, Shine).
About the Author
Michele Young-Stone is the author of the novels Lost in the Beehive, Above Us Only Sky, and The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, which The Boston Globe called “an exceptionally rich and sure-handed debut.” She lives in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with her husband and son.
“Above Us Only Sky is a raw, beautiful, unforgettable book that folds unfathomable horrors and unfathomable love into a story of incredible power. Young-Stone is a master writer, and her deft control of this novel's many moving pieces puts her in the highest echelon of our craft. Yet at the center, literal and figurative, of this novel is a story so brilliantly simple and deeply moving, you'll forget you are reading a book. This story shook me to my core, and I can't wait for the rest of the world to experience it.”
—Lydia Netzer, bestselling author of Shine Shine Shine and How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky
"Rich with themes of love and loss. Young-Stone has spun a beautiful tale on the cusp of magical realism, but with 100% pure magical prose."
—Heidi Durrow, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
“The beautiful prose in Michele Young-Stone’s Above Us Only Sky flies off the page. A stirring meditation on resilience, the ties that bind us to our past, and what it means to have wings.”
—Tracy Guzeman, author of The Gravity of Birds
“Young-Stone has written a novel that's both fanciful and brutally realistic, soaring as it does between angelic beings and heartless dictators. From America to Lithuania, from past to present, this is a heart-wrenching tale for literary fiction fans and particularly for readers interested in World War II.”
“Imaginative and vivid storytelling”
“Young-Stone paints a surreal world of modern fantasy and tragic history. . . . A daring, imaginative work.”
“A gripping, heartwarming tale that affirms the strength of family connections despite tragedy, time and separation.”
“Stunning . . . a deeply moving experience.”
“A beautifully layered tapestry.”—Bookslut
"There are many excellent books that came out this year so far, but Above Us Only Sky made the most lasting impression on my reading heart."—Book Riot
"Beautiful. . .I gobbled this book up."— House of Prince