Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Review: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Heidi Durrow's The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is a survivor's story. Rachel is the 11-year-old girl who fell, except she didn't fall accidentally: her mother, chased by her own demons and bad decisions, takes flight with all the kids from the top of a roof. Rachel lives.

The daughter of a white Danish woman and a black GI, Rachel now has to learn who she is. Is she black or is she white? Is she poor Rachel or lucky Rachel? And why did her mother do it?

After recovering from her severe injuries, Rachel goes to live with her black grandmother in Oregon. This is a whole new world to her, and her sense of "otherness" is almost more than she can bear. She struggles to find her place in this new world and also to attempt to grasp why her mother could possibly have thought that killing herself and her children was the only solution. The story of Rachel's mother is told through the points-of-view of the grandmother, the neighbor boy who saw the family's fall from the roof, and her mother's employer, who packed up her possessions and read her journals.

The story of Rachel's mother is really never fully explained, but I was okay with that, mostly. I didn't feel like her story was fleshed out enough to come even close to "justifying" her crime, but I suppose that's another story. Likewise, why Rachel's father never comes back for her isn't really clear at all, and I was mostly okay with that. Mostly.

That said, Durrow's writing is wonderful, and Rachel's story is intriguing enough on its own. Perhaps the novel would have lost some of its lovely, sparse narrative had the stories of the parents been deeper. I definitely recommend this one!

No comments: