14 Jul / The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
So here I sit facing a familiar conundrum … how little can I tell you about this electric debut title but still send you to your library, bookstore, online supplier, literary neighbor, to start you reading it as soon as possible? For some of you loyal believers, that might hopefully be enough …
For others, let me offer a few more tidbits … but as soon as you’re hooked, stop reading here and go start reading elsewhere – Heidi Durrow’s PEN/Bellwether Prize-winning Girl is a non-stop, unputdownable, wrenching mystery that challenges, bends, even destroys any preconceived notions you might have had about identity, race, class, and family bonds.
Rachel should have died. Somehow, her mother, brother, and baby sister fell from the sky, off the roof of a Chicago project building. Rachel fell, too, except her fractured body mended back together, but her heart, her memory, her identity, were shattered into something else, someone else: the “new girl.”
Born to an African American GI father and a Danish mother, Rachel’s parents’ broken marriage brought the family temporarily to Chicago. Her survival takes her to Portland, Maine, to live with her paternal grandmother and aunt. There she will come of age, searching for where she belongs, who she was, who she will become.
Rachel’s voice is enhanced by a chorus of others from her past and present [the many-voiced audible version is enhancingly fabulous], revealing a searing, multi-faceted vision of what happened that only the reader can access. Rachel’s fractured self, caught between mother/father, good girl/bad girl, black/white, past/future … will also need to navigate through life and death.
Inspired by “[a] newspaper story about a girl who was the sole survivor of a family tragedy,” according to her author bio on her publisher’s site, Durrow clearly weaves in pieces of her own history. Her father, too, is an African American enlisted man, her mother a white Danish woman. [Those shared piercing blue eyes can’t lie!] Her peripatetic hapa experience has inspired other projects off the page, as well, including the podcast series, The Mixed Experience: a mixed chick on a mixed-up world.
Four years have passed since Girl landed on shelves, only to fly off into bestseller stardom. Here’s hoping Durrow’s next endeavor arrives soon.