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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Slight wear on edges and covers; otherwise item is in very good condition. No writing or markings in pages.
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The Girl Who Fell from the Sky Hardcover – January 11, 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 428 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2010: Early on in The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, Rachel Morse (the girl in question) wonders about being "tender-headed." It's how her grandmother chides her for wincing at having her hair brushed, but it's also a way of understanding how Rachel grapples with the world in which she landed. Her parents, a Danish woman and an African-American G.I., tried to hold her and her siblings aloft from questions of race, and their failure there is both tragic and tenderly wrought. After sustaining an unimaginable trauma, Rachel resumes her life as a black girl, an identity she quickly learns to adopt but at heart is always reconciling with the life she knew before. Heidi W. Durrow bolsters her story with a chorus of voices that often see what Rachel can't--this is particularly true in the case of Brick, the only witness to her fall. There's a poetry to these characters that draws you into their lives, making for a beautiful and earnest coming-of-age novel that speaks as eloquently to teens as it does to adults. --Anne Bartholomew

From Publishers Weekly

Durrow's debut draws from her own upbringing as the brown-skinned, blue-eyed daughter of a Danish woman and a black G.I. to create Rachel Morse, a young girl with an identical heritage growing up in the early 1980s. After a devastating family tragedy in Chicago with Rachel the only survivor, she goes to live with the paternal grandmother she's never met, in a decidedly black neighborhood in Portland, Ore. Suddenly, at 11, Rachel is in a world that demands her to be either white or black. As she struggles with her grief and the haunting, yet-to-be-revealed truth of the tragedy, her appearance and intelligence place her under constant scrutiny. Laronne, Rachel's deceased mother's employer, and Brick, a young boy who witnessed the tragedy and because of his personal misfortunes is drawn into Rachel's world, help piece together the puzzle of Rachel's family. Taut prose, a controversial conclusion and the thoughtful reflection on racism and racial identity resonate without treading into political or even overtly specific agenda waters, as the story succeeds as both a modern coming-of-age and relevant social commentary. (Feb.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; 1 edition (January 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565126807
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565126800
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (428 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Rachel, the daughter of a Danish woman and African American G.I., grew up in Germany. With her light brown skin and blue eyes, Rachel did not see herself as anything but her parents' child. When tragedy strikes her family after moving to America, Rachel moves in with her paternal grandmother. In Portland, Rachel feels alienated from her family and schoolmates, unable to fit into categories of white or black, and she struggles with memories of her mother. Although told mostly from Rachel's point of view, the novel also follows Rachel's father, her mother's boss, and a young boy who witnessed the family tragedy as Rachel attempts to discover who she is beyond others' labels.

Durrow has created a unique story that combines a young woman's search for identity with a family's history of shame and secrets. The novel begins with Rachel narrating her move to Portland and is told in stark, simple prose. In Portland, Rachel becomes acutely aware of her lack of belonging. She is "light-skinned-ed;" she "talk[s]" white" and can't help but judge her grandmother for her lack of formal English. She fails to fall into pre-established categories.

Meanwhile, pieces of Rachel's parents' history are filled in. Both parents are filled with shame for their inability to protect their children, although their shame comes from different sources. Rachel's mother exemplifies a woman unable to to accept or actively reject that many Americans do not see her children as her own and see them only as a skin color.

The detachment of the first part of the novel distanced me as a reader and felt slow, but as Rachel grew, I grew closer to her and her story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Girl Who Fell from the Sky" tells a story of a family tragedy and survival from the points of view of five interconnected characters. Though the story is in fact very simple, the nonlinear time line, limited narrators, and unconventional sentence structure, give the novel an odd sense of unreality and mystery--an airy elusiveness that keeps readers guessing, working to put the pieces together.

Set in 1980s Portland, OR, the novel opens innocuously with 10-year-old Rachel moving in with her grandmother. It's clear that the move is precipitated by some recent family tragedy, but the exact nature of what has happened remains at first obscure. Rachel's first-person, child's-eye-view narration is absorbing. Bright and perceptive, she eagerly relates the details that strike her as new and curious--her grandmother's unfamiliar speech and special lavender lotion, her aunt Loretta's smooth beauty and "potential lizard," Drew. More reluctantly, she discusses her sense of cultural alienation as the daughter of an African American serviceman and a Danish woman, living in America (and experiencing American racial tensions) for almost the first time. Rachel feels divided from the white girls at school because of her darker skin, alienated from black girls because of her blue eyes and her over-achiever status. She also desperately misses the hybrid Danish-American culture in which she was raised.

Like the best first-person narrators, Rachel tells readers more than she means to, occasionally even more than she herself understands.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Girl Who Fell from the Sky" is more a book for teens than an adult novel. It concerns a biracial girl who is sent to Portland, Ore. to live with her black grandmother after the tragic and puzzling deaths of her mother and siblings. While the subject matter is always ripe for discussion, I had hoped for something meatier that was part mystery, part thoughtfut treatment of race relations. Intead, I found the book to be a tad juvenile and fell flat when the mystery did not pan out. It was also annoying that the outlook changes from chapter to chapter depending on which character is telling the story. It was ok but I was sorry I chose it for my book club selection.
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Format: Hardcover
Rachel a bi-racial Danish and Black, light skinned with blue eyes black girl is delivered to her black grandmother after her mother, brother and baby sister fall off the roof of their apartment building. Her new neighborhood is surrounded with mostly black children and as far from home as she could end up. Rachel struggles to fit in with her new family and piece together her shattered life. Her coming of age story is contrasted with stories from some of those impacted by the tragedy. Through Rachel's memories and stories from her distant father, her mother, her mother's employer, and a young boy who witnessed the tragedy, we slowly piece together what happened on the roof as well as more family secrets that contributed to it. We also see how this event ultimately shapes Rachel's life.

The mystery at the center of the story is slowly unraveled as the book shifts amongst narrators, perspective and time. Instead of confusing or irritating its audience, the novel's structure only adds to its power. This sad and compelling plot is further credited by a strinkingly unique voice.

The Girl who Fell from the Sky is sure to be one of the best books of 2010.
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