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The Girl Who Fell from the Skyby Heidi Durrow
Heartbreaking in its honesty, this perfect jewel of a novel mirrors the real life of the author, who grew up biracial in Portland, Oregon, in the 1980s. After an accident claims her family, Rachel is sent to live with her grandmother in a predominantly black neighborhood. Rachel's confusion and frustration is palpable as she navigates through a new culture and new social norms. With flat-out gorgeous prose and pointed social commentary, this novel is an exquisite illustration of the beauty and ugliness of the human condition.
"The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is that rare thing: a post-postmodern novel with heart that weaves a circle of stories about race and self-discovery into a tense and sometimes terrifying whole." Erin Aubry Kaplan, Ms. Magazine (read the entire Ms. Magazine review)
Synopses & Reviews
This debut novel tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I. who becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy.
With her strict African American grandmother as her new guardian, Rachel moves to a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring mixed attention her way. Growing up in the 1980s, she learns to swallow her overwhelming grief and confronts her identity as a biracial young woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white.
In the tradition of Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, here is a portrait of a young girl — and society's ideas of race, class, and beauty. It is the winner of the Bellwether Prize for best fiction manuscript addressing issues of social justice.
"Durrow's debut draws from her own upbringing as the brown-skinned, blue-eyed daughter of a Danish woman and a black G.I. to create Rachel Morse, a young girl with an identical heritage growing up in the early 1980s. After a devastating family tragedy in Chicago with Rachel the only survivor, she goes to live with the paternal grandmother she's never met, in a decidedly black neighborhood in Portland, Ore. Suddenly, at 11, Rachel is in a world that demands her to be either white or black. As she struggles with her grief and the haunting, yet-to-be-revealed truth of the tragedy, her appearance and intelligence place her under constant scrutiny. Laronne, Rachel's deceased mother's employer, and Brick, a young boy who witnessed the tragedy and because of his personal misfortunes is drawn into Rachel's world, help piece together the puzzle of Rachel's family. Taut prose, a controversial conclusion and the thoughtful reflection on racism and racial identity resonate without treading into political or even overtly specific agenda waters, as the story succeeds as both a modern coming-of-age and relevant social commentary." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Heidi Durrow is a wonderfully gifted writer who can summon a voice, a memorable character, with bold, swift strokes. [This] is a gem." Jay Parini, author of Promised Land
"It engages the heart as much as it does the mind...Unforgettable." Whitney Otto, author of A Collection of Beauties at the Height of their Popularity
"One of the most convincing, original, and moving novels in the distinguished canon of American interracial literature." George Hutchinson, author of In Search of Nella Larsen
From a debut author already praised by Colum McCann as a "profound and necessary new voice" comes a novel about two women adrift in New York—an Iraqi Jewish widow and the latchkey daughter of a chef—who find each other and a new kind of family through their shared love of cooking.
“Elegant, sensual, surprising, and rich, Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots delivers a world to us, populated with indelible characters whose fates, as they become entwined, spur us to read fast, faster, except to do so would be to miss the beauty of Soffers language, which is to be savored.” — Dani Shapiro, author of Family History
This is a story about accepting the people we love—the people we have to love and the people we choose to love, the families were given and the families we make. Its the story of two women adrift in New York, a widow and an almost-orphan, each searching for someone shes lost. Its the story of how, even in moments of grief and darkness, there are joys waiting nearby.
Lorca spends her life poring over cookbooks, making croissants and chocolat chaud, seeking out rare ingredients, all to earn the love of her distracted chef of a mother, who is now packing her off to boarding school. In one last effort to prove herself indispensable, Lorca resolves to track down the recipe for her mothers ideal meal, an obscure Middle Eastern dish called masgouf.
Victoria, grappling with her husbands death, has been dreaming of the daughter they gave up forty years ago. An Iraqi Jewish immigrant who used to run a restaurant, she starts teaching cooking lessons; Lorca signs up.
Together, they make cardamom pistachio cookies, baklava, kubba with squash. They also begin to suspect they are connected by more than their love of food. Soon, though, they must reckon with the past, the future, and the truth—whatever it might be. Bukra fil mish mish, the Arabic saying goes. Tomorrow, apricots may bloom.
Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I., becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy after a fateful morning on their Chicago rooftop.
About the Author
Heidi W. Durrow has won the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition and the Chapter One Fiction Contest. She has received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the American Scandinavian Foundation, and the Lois Roth Endowment and a Fellowship for Emerging Writers from the Jerome Foundation. Her writing has been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, the Literary Review, and others.
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