“The Girl Who Fell From the Sky” by Heidi W. Durrow

“The Girl Who Fell From the Sky” by Heidi W. Durrow  (2010) – 264 pages

    “The girl certainly had enough words in her for all of them. Who knew what she’d grow up to be, but it certainly would be whatever she wanted.”

“The Girl Who Fell from the Sky”, the compelling new novel by Heidi W. Durrow, is the coming of age story of Rachel, an adolescent girl.  Rachel was born in Chicago, but due to tragic mysterious circumstances she is now living with her grandmother in Portland, Oregon.  In the early part of the novel, the chapters switch back and forth between Portland and Chicago in the 1980s.   No, this is not yet another Scandinavian crime thriller from Stieg Larsson, although there are elements of mystery in this novel.  Rather than Stieg Larsson, the superb similar last-named American novelist Nella Larsen is the inspiration for this novel. 

Some terrible things happen to Rachel and her family, but the tone of the novel is buoyant with a hard earned optimism since Rachel is the type of person who will bounce back if at all possible.  She has much help along the way starting with her Grandma.  When Rachel gets into various kinds of trouble, Grandma sits her straight more than a few times.   Then there are those who Rachel meets in school and other places.  Some lead or follow her into trouble, but then there are others like Aunt Loretta and Drew and Lakeisha and Jesse and Brick who help her.  At the age of eleven, Brick runs away from Chicago and travels across the country, because he witnessed the most important event in Rachel’s life.  Here is how Rachel describes Brick.

    “He has his mother’s eyes, I think. He has a way of seeing that his mother gave him.”

The plot is original, the characters will stay in your memory, and you probably have not experienced life from this perspective before.  “The Girl who Fell From the Sky” is a spectacular debut for Heidi W. Durrow.  It is a fine-tuned juggling act as she develops all the interesting characters who are in this novel.

This powerful first novel is the winner of the Barbara Kingsolver Bellwether prize.for 2010  It is currently moving up the charts.  I first learned of Heidi W. Durrow when I stumbled upon her original website Light-Skinned-ed Girl while I was researching novelist Nella Larsen.  I was moved by Durrow’s efforts to get a proper gravestone for Nella Larsen,  Now Heidi W. Durrow has her own author’s website.

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Seems worth a read… lovely review!

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  2. Hi Deboshree,
    Thank you, “The Girl Who Fell grom the Sky” is a fine read.

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  3. Great review, I love books like these. Will enter it in my TBR.

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    • Hi Birdy,
      Good to hear from you. It’s fun to see a young author come out with a successful novel, and “The Girl who fell from the Sky” is turning into a success.

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  4. Posted by kimbofo on February 14, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    Shallow, I know, but I really like the cover image of this book!

    But on a more serious note, this is a great review, and I’ve added the title to my Amazon wishlist.

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    • Hi Kimbofo,
      It’s great to see a young writer like Heidi Durrow start to make it. She seems deserving of it. I especially like her honoring of Nella Larsen.

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  5. Thanks for the review. I’ve looked at this several times, but never felt compelled to read it. Maybe I’ll rethink that decision.

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    • Hi Jeanie,
      Thanks for stopping by. “The Girl who Fell from the Sky” is a story of someone slowly triumphing over nearly the worst circumstances imaginable, thus compelling.

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