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A Feather on the Breath of God: A Novel Kindle Edition
From Sigrid Nunez, the National Book Award-winning author of The Friend, comes A Feather on the Breath of God: a mesmerizing story about the tangled nature of relationships between parents and children, between language and love
A young woman looks back to the world of her immigrant parents: a Chinese-Panamanian father and a German mother. Growing up in a housing project in the 1950s and 1960s, she escapes into dreams inspired both by her parents' stories and by her own reading and, for a time, into the otherworldly life of ballet. A yearning, homesick mother, a silent and withdrawn father, the ballet--these are the elements that shape the young woman's imagination and her sexuality.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
From Kirkus Reviews
- ASIN : B0058U7I9S
- Publisher : Picador; First edition (December 27, 2005)
- Publication date : December 27, 2005
- Language : English
- File size : 3938 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 193 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #143,155 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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My favorite part was definitely "Immigrant Love," the last section of the book, where the narrator has an affair with a Russian immigrant. "He has no curiosity at all about me. After all, I am only a woman; facts about me can't be very important." One of the most honest portrayals of the complexities of human relationships that I have ever read. As a dancer, I found "A Feather on the Breath of God," the third section, interesting and surprisingly foreign to my own experience, but none the less enriching to read. The novel's spare structure makes you feel the necessity of every word on the page.
An extensive novel about the diverse background of a girl with many different cultures, A Feather on the Breath of God explores the adolescence of an interracial girl and the struggle she goes through to be her own person. The novel is separated into descriptions of each of the girl's parents and herself. Her father is characterized as a reserved man with few words and actions, while her mother as a proud, German woman without a comforting bone in her body. The narrator is portrayed as a young girl with an identity crisis, not knowing whether to associate herself with her father's or mother's backgrounds and cultures. She falls in love with the art of ballet and focuses on this passion to distract herself from her unavoidable, dysfunctional family. The last section of the novel describes her as an adult, falling in love with a married Russian man and how she goes forth handling their flawed relationship.
Structured as a conglomeration of anecdotes rather than a single, continuing plotline, A Feather On the Breath of God unfortunately did not move me as much as I hoped it would. I can relate to the narrator because she has a strong, opinionated mother like I had, but I could not deeply connect with the novel on a personal level. Although, I found it extremely beautiful that the narrator realized her passion for ballet and admired her devotion and dedication to the art. I would not pick up this book for entertainment purposes; however, I understand that it is a novel of deep, profound meaning and I respect its literary prestige. Purchase this book if that is what you are looking for.
For their intended purpose, the chapters do quite well at bringing their point across. The narrator has a poor relationship with her Chinese father. Her mother is a crazy psychopath. The narrator loves to dance. That's all fine and dandy. What wasn't so compelling was the repetitiveness of the second chapter. I felt the nostalgia and love the mother expressed about Germany was one-dimensional. It did not need excessive description, nor did it require a disproportionate number of examples of said trait. The writing portrayed the mother in a very negative light by the way she dominates the household and seemingly doesn't contribute anything but her heartfelt anger about all things not German. The author does a good job writing a realistic portrayal of complex characters, where there is still a bit of ambiguity. Nonetheless, I felt like the second chapter did not work for me, mostly due to its repetitive nature.
The last chapter was a surprising find. There are few novels which I am deeply immersed into a story enough to keep turning the page. This last chapter was one of those moments. It does a good job combining themes from the last three chapters into the protagonist's interaction with Vadim, who has said, "We don't have sex, we only have children." He says this only to be sardonic, with unusual idiosyncrasies and beliefs, such as his translation of the golden rule: "Today I am unlucky. Tomorrow it is someone else's turn to be unlucky." I believe the people around you say more about you than anything else, and I believe Vadim's unique personality and peculiar wisdom spoke volumes about her character. The character accounts were splendid, and that's what made the last chapter worthwhile. Still, the rest of the novel was pretty dull, so if you can stomach it, you'll find a great story in the final section of the book.