Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow (2010)

The always lovely choo thrust this book upon me a few months ago, and it took quite some time to work its way up to the top of my ever-expanding pile. Once it did, though, I zoomed through it in a day and a half and enjoyed every second of it.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (2010) by Heidi W. Durrow is a coming-of-age story, a novel about race, a psychological study, and an engaging read. The book tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish woman and an African-American military man who has mostly grown up overseas on military bases. When she alone survives a family tragedy, she is sent off to live with her father's mother and sister in Portland. Rachel tries to put on a happy face while inside she struggles with her racial identity and her lost family.

The book alternates between the viewpoints of Rachel, the diaries of her late mother, her mom's boss and friend, her father, and a boy from Chicago who witnessed her family's last moments. While the story seems like it could be a heavy-handed or simplistic look at race and growing up, Durrow's straightforward (and yet sometimes poetic) prose, gradual revelations about the family secrets, and her perfect control of the plot keep things from getting too easy or clichéd. A great book for anyone, and one that I think would particularly resonate with teenagers.

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