February 13, 2010

The Girl that Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow

Date Started: February 12, 2010
Date Finished: February 13, 2010

Summary: Rachel is the daughter of a Black GI and a Danish mother. After a terrible accident, she goes to live with her Black grandmother in a racially divided area. As she grows older, she learns how to survive in her racialized world and learns the truth of her family's tragic accident that claimed their lives. 

Likes: I like all the point of views that came together to tell Rachel's story. Durrow stated at her reading that she is marketing this book as a mystery, love, and coming-of-age story and it is just that. There is the mystery behind the accident that claimed Rachel's family and the mystery of whether the other characters, Laronne (Nella's friend) and Brick (a boy who saw the accident) will be able to solve the truth about that fateful day. There is the love between Roger and Nella, Rachel's black father and Danish mother, a mother's love for her children, and ultimately Rachel's love and acceptance of herself. This novel is honest, with Rachel wondering what side of the racial divide does she belong to. Sometimes she appears to be stuck up and at other times she appears to be confused. I believe that Durrow captured all the aspects of Rachel's personality.

I understood Rachel and her struggles, even though I am not biracial. The story speaks to me because Rachel could be any girl-- a girl like me who spent her most of her life being alienated by people of her own ethnicity, be accepted by another culture, and coming to a place where it either wasn't accepted or it was actually embraced. And yet, Rachel is Rachel with her own unique background and set of circumstances that make her who she is. The novel is about not being defined by others but by the person you make yourself to be. This story, in my opinion, will speak to anyone who just felt like they didn't belong whether they be Black, White, or in Rachel's case "other."   

Dislikes: I want to know what happens next. I believe Durrow chose a good spot to stop the story at and I feel that the ending is appropriate, but I still want to know what happens to Rachel at the overall end of the story.

Overall: I heard a lot of buzz about this novel through the blogosphere and I did some research on the novel. I found out that the author was coming to Writer's Week at UC Riverside, I was ecstatic. I bought an advanced copy a week before it came out and I got the book signed. One of these days I'm going to give away copies of books like the big time bloggers, but not this one. I love this book. It's great.

Another strange thing that I want to confirm with the author if I ever get the chance is the newspaper article that she got the idea for the story from. I was telling my mom what the book was about and she told me that she heard a story about that when she lived in Long Beach. My mom mentioned that she saw the woman once or twice in church before the incident and she told me that only the daughter survived. It's really interesting.


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