2008 Bellwether Prize Winner
||2010 Powell's Staff Top 5s
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
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.
Forced to move to a new city, with her strict African-American grandmother as her guardian, Rachel is thrust for the first time into a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring a constant stream of attention her way. It's there, as she grows up and tries to swallow her grief, that she comes to understand how the mystery and tragedy of her mother might be connected to her own uncertain identity.
This searing and heartwrenching portrait of a young biracial girl dealing with society's ideas of race and class is the winner of the Bellwether Prize for best fiction manuscript addressing issues of social justice.
"Out of the clear blue, here is a breathless telling of a tale we've never heard before. Haunting and lovely, pitch-perfect, this book could not be more timely." Barbara Kingsolver
"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
"[An] affecting, exquisite debut novel....Durrow's powerful novel is poised to find a place among classic stories of the American experience." Miami Herald
"An auspicious debut...[Durrow] has crafted a modern story about identity and survival." Washington Post
"Rachel's voice resonated in my reading mind 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, it makes you want to step between the pages to lend comfort." NPR's Morning Edition
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.