Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky Paperback – January 11, 2011
|New from||Used from|
Books with Buzz
"Killers of the Flower Moon" is a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history. See more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
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. The tragedy piles on thick at times, but the second half of the novel touchingly covers the nuances of Rachel's development: her feelings for her aunt's fiance Drew, her conflicts with her judgmental but well-meaning grandmother, and her relationship with a liberal white college boy. The novel skillfully explores the complexities of racial identity and relationships today.
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. Gradually, it becomes clear that Rachel's mother and younger siblings recently died in an "accident"--that the whole family fell from the top of a Chicago apartment building where they had been living for most of one summer, leaving Rachel the only survivor.
Interspersed with Rachel's narration are third-person sections following Jamie, a young neighbor boy who witnesses the family's fall, and Laronne, the supervisor at the community college library where Rachel's mother, Nella, had worked during her short stay in Chicago. As the novel progresses, Laronne finds and reads Nella's diaries, while Jamie meets and talks to Rachel's father Roger, creating fourth and fifth narrative strains that also help to fill out the story.
The novel is complicated, not only by the mode of storytelling, but by the themes which populate it--race and class, of course, but also alcoholism and addiction. Imagery of birds and flight and sky and maps also permeates the text, flowing through nearly every section. The effect is striking, artistic, holistic, but also unsubtle.
The climax of the story falls flat, failing to deliver the emotional impact that has been set up, and leaving behind a myriad of loose ends. It's common in novels that aspire to "post modernism" that stories trail off, that life goes on, as it might in the real world, without the neat bows and morals of classical literature, but this is extreme. In the final chapters, it seems, all the characters but two disappear without explanation. It feels rushed, and it feels false. But it's worth keeping in mind that Durrow is still a very young writer. Her prose is astounding, her characterization deep and astute, she just hasn't mastered plot and pacing completely.