Excerpt from This Side Of The Sky by Elyse Singleton, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

This Side Of The Sky

By Elyse Singleton

This Side Of The Sky
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Sep 2002,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2003,
    304 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

KELLNER Russia
1951

LONG IN SUFFERING, QUICK IN LOSING-SEVEN YEARS. EVERY day, another season of winter whisked by, just like that. Did she think he had been killed? Or did she assume he had married someone who looked more like him?

He knew that to her he had become a man of dead promises. Yet, he remembered her elegant mind, the deep blackness of her hair, the liquid brown of her eyes, and the way her pearl earrings drew his eyes to the curve of her neck.

He did not know whether he would live out the day. And he had only one reason to care. The single thing that redeemed the world was that somewhere, she lived. Even now, in this endless winter, he could feel the warmth of her hand.

LILIAN
Mississippi
1930

...a flight of unsung hearts...

AS A GIRL, I LOVED ANYTHING WITH WHEELS OR WINGS-including Pontiacs, trains, bread trucks and hummingbirds-because they all had the power to get out of Mississippi. This is what I wanted to do, and couldn't do on the authority of my underage feet alone. But I swore to myself that once grown, I'd do anything to leave. If my legs were broken, I'd hobble. If my eyes were blind, I'd grope and stumble. If a cement wall stood at the state line, I'd defy natural laws, sprout great wings that flailed the thick air and beat the mighty odds so I could soar away-anything. I didn't know then that the highest fence might be my own mind. I did know, though, that in Mississippi, I was just killing time and mourning its passing. Away I could have adventures, cross oceans, sample cities and get a glamorous job. I could fall in love, resolve my deepest hurts, author my own life and write it as a gleaming epoch so that for oneperpetual moment, I'd feel joy.

One thing was certain: I'd go with Myraleen when I left. She felt as dead as I did in Mississippi and came to share my determination to escape a place where we'd been mismatched with our own lives.

Miz Herdie was the first to get an inkling of it. She took care of us when we were little. When we first started walking, we walked with purpose, she said. Our stumbling steps weren't roundabout and nearsighted like the other babies'. We waddled out the door in a northeasterly direction, past the chickens, toward the mustard and turnip greens that thrived along the gate, and we probably would have left the property altogether if she'd let us. It was as if we were being pulled by a gossamer string.

She knew it, she'd say later. One day we'd fly away, and it would be a flight of unsung hearts and untried legs, and if we smacked the ground and shed our lives in the attempt at living, well, that's just how things went sometimes.

Myraleen and I stayed with Miz Herdie while our mothers worked. Myraleen's mother worked in a white lady's kitchen. Mine shucked oysters down near Gulfport. A wagon burdening two horses for one hour hauled her and some others to a house on the pier packed with wet buckets of grimy brown shellfish. What I remember most clearly from the earliest days was riding up to Miz Herdie's porch in Mudear's arms, and my face being pushed into the old woman's bosom. I knew better than to cry.

Miz Herdie placed me on the floor beside a little girl with no color, who bit and scratched. People who came around looked at that child, reared back their chests and said, "Yeah, daylight done broke on that one all right, damn near white!"

Myraleen had no clear reason to fight me. I'd be over in a corner, playing with a shoe box, and suddenly she'd be at my side, with those paper-thin nails poised for combat. This went on for a long time, it seemed, until I came to think Myraleen was punishing me for some unknown wrong. Mudear would get mad, and tell me I'd better learn to pick up my feet, instead of falling so much and getting all scratched up or she'd add a whipping to the scratches.

from This Side of the Sky: A Novel by Elyse Singleton, Copyright © 2002 Blue Hen Books, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...
  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  170The Weight of Blood:
    Laura McHugh
  2.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois

All Discussions

Who Said...

The less we know, the longer our explanations

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.