Lynn S. (LYNCH STATION, VA)
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, by Heidi W. Durrow, is a very uncommon story. I found the book easy to read in the sense that the prose is comfortable and natural. On the other hand, it was difficult for me to capture the characters and their relationship with each other during the first 50 pages. After that, I became awed by the struggle that occurred as daily events to the young protagonist, Rachel. While reading the book, both the “tragedy” and the “reality of Rachel” seemed to me to be fabricated. Much to my surprise (after hearing an interview with Ms. Durrow on NPR All Things Considered on March 2, 2010) I learned that both of these aspects of the book are based on true experiences. The story of the tragedy (which is unveiled gradually throughout the chapters) and its aftermath was interesting to me from a philosophical perspective and is based on a true story. The story of Rachel’s youth was otherwise and was actually autobiographical. In my opinion and more importantly than it being based on reality, the story of Rachel, herself, is what caused my compulsion to complete the book. How often are we told that people are people even if they are of different races or from different cultures? Yet, how seldom do we have the opportunity to learn about the inner experiences of a soul who is in fact bi-racial? In summary, I want to give Ms. Durrow the highest of praise…she made me look inside myself.
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
The author packs a lot into this short book, touching on issues related to identity and racism and showing what it means to grow up and continue on in the wake of tragedy. The author's use of language and shifting points of view are very effective. The book would lend itself to an interesting discussion in book clubs and might be of interest to young adult readers. However, some might find that the book covers well-trod ground and contains characters that border on stereotype.
Laura P. (Atlanta, GA)
This Bellweather Prize winner addresses issues of racial identity, class prejudice, substance abuse, and adolescent sexuality through a compact, well-written, and moving story packed with sympathetic and well-defined characters. The story revolves around an unthinkable family tragedy and its impact on the several narrators, most notably Rachael, a mixed-race child who is the survivor of the event. While the story is not a mystery, the details of the keynote incident are revealed slowly through out the story in a way that allows the author, Heidi Durrow, to explore a number of issues from various perspectives. It's compelling reading!
Eileen P. (Pittsford, NY)
Who Am I?
This beautifully written novel explores the many ways that grief can change lives. Durrow uses five diverse narrators to slowly unveil the shocking tragedy that has become one of the central event of all of their lives. This moving and unique novel would be an excellent discussion book. It raises numerous questions about racial identity, adolescent sexuality, and the numerous ways that parents can harm their children.