Rated of 5
by Marsha Toy Engstrom, The Book Club Cheerleader The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, by Heidi Durrow
This fresh coming of age story is alternately narrated by several unique voices—and in this way, dark family secrets are slowly revealed to the reader. We see the story unfold from: Rachel, the title character; her late mother, Nella, by way of journal entries; a neighbor boy, Brick (aka: Jamie); Nella’s supervisor, Laronne; and by Rachel’s father, Roger, in a solitary, yet insightful entry. Rachel’s voice is by far the strongest. Her honest words resonate with quiet wisdom as she struggles with such themes as: racial identity, love and loss, affection and sexuality, abandonment and belonging, and growth and survival. Durrow also addresses gritty themes such as alcoholism and recovery, and abuse and caretaking. In a skillful counterpart, Brick struggles with many of these same issues as Rachel. As a sixth-grade girl, we hear Rachel describe her new grandmother: “This is the picture I want to remember: Grandma looks something like pride. Like a whistle about to blow.” Later, as a freshman in high school, we hear Rachel lament “...the other black girls in school think I want to be white. They call me an Oreo. I don’t want to be white. Sometimes I want to go back to being what I was. I want to be nothing.” Or as James McBride’s mom would’ve described it, “the color of water.” Rachel is a broken soul and in order to try to make sense of her outward self, she stuffs her feelings: anger, sadness, hurt—and anything she believes may not be acceptable to those around “the new girl”—into what she visualizes as an internal blue bottle with a stopper to keep all of her “bad” feelings in…Heartbreaking, and yet in Durrow’s sparse prose, so clearly seen and felt. The ending was a bit unsatisfying, but the powerful story, the haunting prose, and the idiosyncratic, well-developed characters overshadow this tiny flaw. Book Clubs will certainly have plenty to discuss. Coming of age, coming to terms—without completely coming undone…Rachel’s story will yank at your heartstrings. This cheerleader gives Heidi Durrow’s freshman novel a two pom pom cheer!
Rated of 5
by Nora D. (North Riverside, IL) A great, character driven novel
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is an interesting read. Durrow creates compelling characters readers want to learn more about, and she pulls readers in by having the chapters focus on different characters. Although things tie up a little too neatly in the end, I found this to be an enjoyable read and will look for more books by this author.
Rated of 5
by MaryEllen K. (Albany, NY) The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
I was thrilled to receive this book because the theme was of great interest to me. I had previously read Caucasia, by Danzy Senna, another book about a biracial girl coming of age and trying to find her roots, her family, and her identity. I loved that book, so I had high hopes for Heidi Durrow's book. I typically enjoy books told from several different points of view, but with this story I wanted to hear so much more of Rachel's voice- so I was not drawn in by the alternating stories told by Nella, Roger, or Brick. I was really trying to get to know Rachel...but the book ended before that could happen, and that was disappointing to me.
Rated of 5
by Katharine P. (Boulder, CO) Not The Bluest Eye
A heartbreaking inside view of growing up half black and half white. A young girl survives a landing from 9 storeys up (was she pushed, did she fall?) which her mother and siblings did not. Taken in by the African American side of the family in Portland, she starts to make decisions about who she is and how she will face the rest of her life. Did I say heartbreaking? You will root for her and hope she does more than survive the decisions about who she is she keeps being forced to make. This title will appeal to adults, is great for bookclubs, but should be suggested to thoughtful young adults as well. The voice is strong and clear and the writing is transcendent and beautiful.
Rated of 5
by Catie N. (Aurora, CO) The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
The story of Rachel, daughter of a black GI and a Danish mother, and her family revolves around a bizarre tragedy that happens near the beginning of the book. Don't be put off by the quick reveal of that, though, because the the rest of the book is a slow unfolding of the "why" and the events leading up to that tragedy from the viewpoint of Rachel; Jamie/Brick, who is a witness to what happened; Rachel's mother's supervisor; and Rachel's father. Very different perspectives from each narrator adds a richness to the story, and the mystery of "why" isn't solved until the very end of the book. The author deals with themes of race, alcoholism, love, and forgiveness, among others, which brings me to my only complaint about the book: too many issues and too many plot points. But overall, an original story and a good read.
Rated of 5
by Liz C. (Portage, MI) The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
Heidi Durrow explores the issues of identity, race and family in this eloquently written novel. Rachel Morse survives a family tragedy and is forced to examine her identity when she moves to Portland to live with her African American grandmother. Is she white? Is she black? We might not think it matters, but it does, as this novel makes so perfectly clear. Rachel is a smart, gutsy, self-aware girl who comes of age through the course of the novel. The issues raised in this book are particularly relevant in our multicultural society. But the issues don’t get in the way of the story in this deserved winner of the Bellwether Prize. The engaging narrative and characters make it an excellent choice for young adults as well.
Amazon cuts off 5200 affiliates in Minnesota(Jun 19 2013) With Minnesota's online sales tax law due to take effect July 1, Amazon has played a familiar card by cutting ties with 5,200 members of its Associates...