Heartbreaking in its honesty, this perfect jewel is based partially on 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. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A timely and moving bicultural coming-of-age tale, based on a true story and told by an author who has struggled with the same issues as her protagonist.
The daughter of a Danish immigrant and a black G.I., Rachel survives a family tragedy only to face new challenges. Sent to live with her strict African-American grandmother in a racially divided Northwest city, she must suppress her grief and reinvent herself in a mostly black community. A beauty with light brown skin and blue eyes, she attracts much attention in her new home. The world wants to see her as either black or white, but thats not how she sees herself.
Meanwhile, a mystery unfolds, revealing the terrible truth about Rachels last morning on a Chicago rooftop. Interwoven with her voice are those of Jamie, a neighborhood boy who witnessed the events, and Laronne, a friend of Rachels mother. Inspired by a true story of a mothers twisted love, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky reveals an unfathomable past and explores issues of identity at a time when many people are asking “Must race confine us and define us?”
Narrated by an ensemble, with Emily Bauer (Rachel), Kathleen McInerney (Nella), and Karen Murray (Jamie, LaRone, Brick, Roger).
"[A] breathless telling of a tale we've never heard before. Haunting and lovely, pitch-perfect."
--Barbara Kingsolver, author and founder Barbara Kingsolver
"Echoes of the early Toni Morrison, resonances with Langston Hughes. . . . A stunning debut."
--George Hutchinson, author of In Search of Nella Larson George Hutchinson
"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."
--Ms. Magazine Christian Science Monitor
"[An] insightful family saga of the toxicity of racism and the forging of the self . . . Durrow brings piercing authenticity to this provocative tale, winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction."
--Booklist [starred review] Library Journal
"Rachel's voice resonated . . . in much the same way as did that of the young protagonist of The House on Mango Street.
There's an achingly honest quality to it; both wise and naive."
--Shannon Rhodes, NPR Shannon Rhodes
"The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
can actually fly ... Its energy comes from its vividly realized characters, from how they perceive one another. Durrow has a terrific ear for dialogue, an ability to summon a wealth of hopes and fears in a single line."
--New York Times Book Review
"[The narrators] tell this harrowing tale with exceptional beauty, thanks, in part, to Durrow's artful prose. The gentleness with which the performers, particularly Bauer, as sweet-voiced Rachel, unfold the events is remarkable. These voices give a heartrending story its heart."
10 Best Mother"s Day Books of 2010 (Christian Science Monitor) --Christian Science Monitor
"The characters are drawn so vividly and portrayed so well by the narrators that their voices will continue to resonate long after the book is done. A solid hit; strongly recommended."
--Library Journal [starred review]
Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I., is the sole survivor of a tragic family incident. 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 a constant stream of mixed attention her way. As she attempts to come to terms with an unfathomable past, she confronts her own identity as a biracial young woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white.
About the Author
A graduate of Stanford University, Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, and Yale Law School, Heidi W. Durrow 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. KAREN MURRAY is a voice actor living in New York city. In addition to recording audio books, she enjoys a successful career in commercial voice-over. Her skill in the field has also made her a highly sought after voice-over instructor.