Review: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
By Heidi Durrow
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Paperback, 9781616200152, January 2011, 278pp.)

The Short of It:

A tragic tale of a motherless girl and her struggle to come to terms with who she is. Strong in voice, but fell short in the execution.

The Rest of It:

After her family falls off the roof of their building, Rachel is the sole survivor and since her G.I. dad is not in the picture (by choice), she is forced to leave Chicago for Oregon, to live with her paternal grandmother.

At eleven years of age, Rachel finds the transition to be a rough one. In Chicago, the fact that her mother was Danish and her father was black, didn’t seem to be an issue, but when she moves to Oregon, her blue eyes cause her fellow classmates to raise their eyebrows over this “light skinned-ed” girl (as she is called by some).

Her innocence and confusion over what happened in Chicago, and her concern over how she will fit into this new world, is heartbreaking. Except, she’s not all that innocent when it comes down to it, and there are mysterious circumstances surrounding the true events of that fateful evening which is given to the reader in tiny pieces, as told by various characters and sometimes even moving back and forth in time.

What Durrow does well, is create a voice for this young girl that tugs at your heartstrings. Rachel is fragile, like a baby bird. You can’t help but feel for her and all you want to do while reading this book, is grab the girl and give her the biggest hug possible. Life without a mother and father, knowing what she knows, and knowing that there is no way to ever bring her mother back, is almost too much for this young girl to bear.

However, I did have some issues with the story. In a book like this, where identity is front and center, you expect the main character to come full circle or to at least feel comfortable in the skin she was born in. I’m not certain that this occurred by the end of the story. I don’t feel that she had any more of an understanding of who she was at the end, than she did at the beginning of the story which left me feeling lukewarm about all of it.

All in all, what could have been a great book was really just an okay read for me. It lost steam in the middle, picked up towards the end and then left me feeling so-so about it. However, as a book club read, which this is for me, I think there is plenty to discuss. The choices that the parents made, the need to fit in, mixed-marriages and issues of self-worth are all discussion worthy topics and if given a chance to read another Durrow book, I would.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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20 thoughts on “Review: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky”

  1. I’ve heard many issues about this book in various blogger reviews, but for some reason this book made ALOT of “Best of” lists the year it published. Not blogger lists, but big lists in magazines and newspapers and such. I never understand how that happens. I have looked at some of these lists and just shook my head and wondered what drugs they were taking.

  2. Like Sandy I’ve read a lot of reviews of this one, but somehow never glowing enough to make me want to read it.

    Do you think it’s a good one for a book club? How did your discussion go?

    1. My book club hasn’t met yet to discuss it. I think it will generate discussion but the discussion will probably center around the choices the author made.

  3. I might pass on this one after reading your review. The cover grabs my attention but I have never actually picked it up….

    Sorry you didn’t love it.

    Hope you are having a wonderful vacation!

  4. I just got this book the other day and have been excited to read it! Like Sandy, I’ve read a lot of amazing things about this book and a lot of not so good reviews which discouraged me. Even though she doesn’t seem to grow, the subject of belonging and fitting in and being mixed race is so personal for me that I think I might really enjoy this read despite some of the negative aspects of it. I felt like your review was fairly balanced and actually encourages me more. I need to read this soon!

  5. I have seen this book around a lot, but I hadn’t realized what it was about. It sounds like it could be a really depressing book, but if it’s written well I wouldn’t mind that (given I was in the right mood).

  6. I know I’m like a broken record here but I sincerely enjoy reading your reviews because I think you’re so talented and really express yourself so well! This is one that I’m pretty sure would fall short for me too. It’s too bad that she didn’t come full circle and understand herself more. Honestly, if she had to overcome so much you would think there would be character growth???

  7. It does sound as if this story was a tad uneven, and that it failed to totally deliver in the end. I have it, but haven’t really felt a burning desire to read it after having read some rather tepid reviews. I am glad to have read your thoughts on this book, and to have gotten your honest opinion. Like Sandy said, many publications were raving over it, but the word of mouth hasn’t been all that stellar. Thanks for sharing your candid thoughts on it with us.

  8. I’m planning to read this one later in the year as I finish all of the Bellwether winners. I’ve heard mixed things about it, and your review seems to be in line with that. I’m still eager to read it, but my expectations are sufficiently lowered.

    1. I made the mistake of listening to the audio after the book, to see if I missed something. Good GAWD! What a horrible voice for the little girl! So do not listen to the audio. The book is better.

    1. Yep! That is certainly the question throughout! Well, you sort of know one piece of it but don’t find out the real story until the very end.

  9. My library has this one on audio I think and I was going to reserve it but after hearing it was just ok for you I’m uncertain. Aaaah, I just scrolled up a tad and saw you hated the audio so that clinches it. lol.

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