Hedy Reviews “The Girl Who Fell from the Sky”
This book won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction founded by Barbara Kingsolver to annually honor the best book on a social issue written by an unpublished author. Part of the prize was that the novel would be published. The social issue(s) in the case of “The Girl Who Fell from the Sky” were the advantages and disadvantages of being bi-racial and the impact of language. The girl in the story had a white Danish mother and African American father (as does the author). English not being her first language, the mother was sometimes not aware of racial slurs but she was definitely affected by them when she realized what was meant. This had a deadly impact on her family. After a major tragedy at an apartment building in Chicago, Rachel, the main character, goes to live with her paternal Grandma in Portland, Oregon. Her grandma had always sent her grandkids each a Christmas card with a $10 bill wrapped in aluminum foil inside and she “doesn’t make her voice go loud or hard, just makes the sounds go capital. ‘BUT, he STILL keepin YOU AWAY from the WORD.’” The theme of identity was prominent.
Durrow said in an interview that she was inspired by a real event to write this rather disturbing novel. This was a rough enough story without contemplating its relationship to reality. It dealt with a situation I will never know personally, but that more and more people in this country do. Reading books like this gives me a certain understanding, a little bit of empathy. I value them for that reason and for the literary skill of the author–the sheer beauty and power of the phrasing and dialogue.
FIC DURR (also CDBOOK, PLAYAWAY) “The Girl Who Fell from the Sky” by Heidi W. Durrow