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The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow; Review

March 5, 2010

Title: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Author: Heidi W. Durrow

Published: February, 2010 by Algonquin Books*

Number of Pages: 256

Rating: 3/5

Review Sent to Algonquin Books:

Blunt and unsparingly honest, this book will leave you raw. Heidi W. Durrow’s strikingly apparent talent complements her evident desire to write a book that deals with the difficult social tensions of our diverse modern America. The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is certain to appeal to anyone looking for a book that will send their mind on a philosophical rampage. Although at times I found Durrow’s naked description of particular scenes slightly disturbing, they played a crucial part in the depiction of various abuses of mentality and body. The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is sure to impact its readers intensely.

Review:

First off, allow me to explain that dastardly 3/5 above. Clearly, my review was very positive, and I did honestly enjoy the book a lot, but there are a few things that must be accounted for: those scenes I mentioned as being “slightly disturbing”. As a young girl, those scenes freaked me out… And, consequently, my rating went from 4/5 to 3/5. Still, as long as you pay attention to the fact that this book is most definitely PG13, I’m sure nearly everyone who reads The Girl Who Fell From the Sky will find it’s quite worth the read. There is no doubt that this book will be greatly respected in the world of literature.

The girl who fell from the sky, a.k.a. Rachel, is one troubled little, darling soul, who, honestly, just longs to be touched. After the traumatic deaths of her mother and siblings, Rachel moves in with her grandmother and aunt, whom she hardly knows. Set in the 1980’s, we follow Rachel as she discovers that people want you to be something definitive. -Black or white? Take your pick and let’s be on with it.- As a biracial girl, Rachel learns this the hard way.

But that longing to be touched and her impossible belief that she was meant to die a long time ago? Yeah, well… they don’t help her much either. Rachel experiences the worst of what we all do as we evolve into the person we hope to eternally be: beliefs and wants (which we most likely call “needs” ourselves) that will very probably do us more harm than good. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is chock full of intriguing character development.

And then you have Brick, a.k.a. Jamie, the boy who thought he saw a great egret fly past his window – a bird who in reality was Rachel’s younger brother, not flying but falling to his death. He’s the kind of little boy that you love from the beginning. I’ll leave off there, as Brick’s life is just as turbulent as Rachel’s and I don’t want to ruin anything!

You can’t go wrong with a pack of characters that complement each other as the ones in this book do, and you most certainly can’t go wrong with following young kids through impressionable years. The outcomes in situations like these are incredibly unpredictable. One false hope vanquished, one want denied, one need you wished they didn’t have, and one abuse you wished they hadn’t suffered – these things mold people, both in the world and in decent books.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky reminds me much of a book I’ve partially read by Toni Morrison, A Mercy, as the protagonists seem similar. You watch them go wrong and desperately want to help them find the path you believe they should follow – and all the while you’re the reader. You don’t have the control or authority to bend the story, and that fact makes the book even more shocking and dreadfully wonderful.

Racial matters play a starring role as well and certainly opened my eyes to what it was like only a little ways back. Although I know the extinction of racism is long past due (as in – it hasn’t happened yet), I live beyond it, for the most part. I’m an onlooker to the bit of racism I’m particularly aware of, and the 80’s seem too near to have enclosed racism at all. The fact that I don’t see any difference between one color and the other doesn’t entail that others see through eyes as clear as mine. Some people’s eyes are fogged up. That’s true everywhere, and is aptly portrayed in the novel.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is a book I hope many people will read. As I said before, beware: there are some very descriptive scenes of abuse (one of which frightened me – no kidding), but overall, some were imperative to the story. The story told, despite how it was worded (which was well) and despite how disturbing it is at times, is one heck of a shiny gem. I know with a certainty that Heidi W. Durrow is an author who will deserve many awards and loving readers over her career as an author. I just hope she gets them.

*Thanks so much for the ARC!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2010 9:46 AM

    This is a fascinating review. I’ve been wanting to read this for awhile and I still will, but I think I’ll go into it with a better idea of what to expect. Thanks!

  2. March 6, 2010 5:10 AM

    Great review, Madeleine! I understand that reviews can be quite subjective according to different people. I’ve read quite a few good reviews about this book. 🙂

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