Heidi W. Durrow
Publication Year: 2010
Source: Bought it
It’s a funny thing to think about: moving toward extinction. And I think of how maybe I’m already extinct in a strange way – there’s no way to make another me: at least I can’t do it. But that doesn’t matter anyway because I never want to have kids.
The Girl Who Fell From The Sky is the debut novel from Heidi W. Durrow. It’s also the winner of the Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, which was founded by Barbara Kingsolver.
The story tells the life of Rachel, the only survivor of tragic, mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of her three siblings and their mother. Rachel is also biracial, the daughter of a white Danish mother and African-American father. After the death of her family members, Rachel is sent to live with her paternal grandmother and has to learn how to navigate in a country where she’s considered black, something she didn’t think much about before. Told from the perspective of Rachel, her mother Nella, and those who knew their family, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is an engaging read of one girl’s struggle to live after the death of those she loved most.
This year I’m learning a lot about my reading. I’ve learned that I don’t read many books that feature:
- the elderly as protagonists
- mother-daughter relationships
- bi-racial characters
Where have I been? In today’s society with so many people being of several races and cultures, I can’t believe I’ve ignored this. Luckily reading this book brought it to my attention. As a young girl, not only does Rachel has to deal with everything that has happened, she also has to learn how to deal with so much attention to both who she is physically, her long fuzzy hair that makes girls in her class want to fight her, blue eyes, and light brown skin to who she is as a person, someone who loves to read and tries to understand what being black means in America during the 1980s.
The problem is that as interesting and engaging as the book was, I didn’t connect very well to Rachel. Readers understand this character through her words and interactions with others but it wasn’t enough.
I had the same problem with Rachel’s mother, Nella. Nella is a young Danish woman living in Europe when she meets Roger, an African-American man stationed at a nearby base. They soon marry and have children before Nella leaves Roger and flees to the United States with their children. She struggles with everything before she finally makes a terrifying decision. I wish there was more pages dedicated to this fierce woman.
*spoiler spoiler spoiler
I need to understand her decision with the same depth that I understood a similar decision in Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
Though I didn’t get the connection I needed, I still think this was an excellent read. My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.