Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

By Heidi W. Durrow

George and I are really enjoying this book!

The novel is a haunting, provocative story about a biracial girl who suffers a family tragedy and her journey to come to terms with and move forward from this horrific event. The incident is so appalling that it is almost unbelievable.  Perhaps most shocking is the author’s acknowledgment in an interview at the end of the book that her inspiration for the story came from a true event she read about on the news, and her musings about how someone moves on from such tragedy.  She wanted to create a story that follows the young survivor to see who she could become, but one that ultimately offers hope in the aftermath of sorrow. 

Durrow also incorporated her own experiences with her biracial heritage into the novel as the main character, Rachel, faces discrimination from her peers, community, and even family due to having a white Danish mother and a black father.  And she must create an identity for herself, while overcoming the prejudices she faces from both races. 

The story takes place in Chicago and Seattle in the 1980s.  The point of view is both first – from Rachel’s perspective – and 3rd, as the novel follows the actions and thoughts of other important characters as well.  Durrow beautifully melds their individual stories together, keeping Rachel at the heart of everything.  She also keeps the reader guessing as to the truth surrounding the tragedy.  It is not fully revealed until the end of the book. 

I read the book quickly, consumed by questions regarding the tragedy and interest in Rachel’s journey through her sorrow, denial, and society’s prejudices.  It is a story of survival.  It is a story of a young girl coming of age and facing life’s hardships.  It is not without hope, but there are definite moments of heart-wrenching sadness.

Rachel is written as a young girl who has bottled up her emotions and gradually, the reader witnesses her slow transition into someone who will break if she does not allow these emotions to flow.  She is simultaneously strong and fragile.  Her story is both fascinating and moving.

The only aspect of the book that frustrated me was the fact that the author left some unanswered questions – particularly pertaining to the father. 

Overall, I recommend this book.  It will touch you, shock you, and leave you thinking long after you turn the last page.

Author's Website:

Heidi W. Durrow explains her inspiration for the story:

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