Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

262 pages

Oh, what a relaxing break I've had!  My two sisters came to visit this weekend and we had a wonderful time together.  I am so happy my father, in his "mid-life" crisis, married a beautiful woman with 5 interesting children-two of which are women.  I grew up with three brothers so I have loved getting to know these sisters over the years.  They are both smart and caring women so it was just a great weekend. 

Now though it is time to catch up.  I finished this amazing book two weeks (yikes!) ago and it is time I finish my post about it.  This book was suggested by my friend, V for our reading long-distance book club. 

Synopsis (from Barnes and Noble):

Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I., is the sole survivor of a tragic family incident. With her strict African American grandmother as her new guardian, Rachel moves to a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring a constant stream of mixed attention her way. As she attempts to come to terms with an unfathomable past, she confronts her own identity as a biracial young woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white.

My thoughts:

     Told in alternating chapters it is Rachel's story as she comes to terms with her family history, which includes the heavy themes of depression, alcoholism, identity and racial issues, which keep Rachel from feeling comfortable with her looks.  Rachel tells her story with the help of Jamie, a Chicago neighbor, Laronne, her mother's kind employer, her father, Roger and Nella, her mother.  They interchangeably recreate Rachel's life first,  with her mother, trying to understand late 1970's America and second, her life with her African-American grandmother, living in Portland, Oregon.

     I enjoyed Durrow's creation of Rachel as she incorporated every woman's struggle of rebellion against family and the search for love in order to define oneself.  I appreciated Rachel's flaws as much as her triumphs.  She wants so much, but mostly simply the need to feel love.  Durrow did a great job of intertwining Jamie's (Brick) story with Rachel and loved the outcome. 

A quote:

"And look at your hair.  All this pretty long hair looking all wild from outside."
"We're gonna wash that tonight," she continues.  "Your Aunt Loretta will help you.  Bet she know how to do something better with that mess of hair than what you had done before.  You're gonna go to school Monday and be the prettiest girl there."
She doesn't say better than your mama.  She doesn't say anything about my mother, because we both know that the new girl has no mother.  The new girl can't be new and still remember.  I am not the new girl.  But I will pretend.  (5-6)
     Rachel is a realist but so in need of love and acceptance and Grandma is hard-to-please.  Struggle.  It's this struggle added to the vivid cast of characters that make this worth reading.  Aunt Loretta, Drew and Brick were positive characters in this tragic tale.  I felt healed just a bit from reading Rachel's if I was able to forgive myself my own struggle as a teen through Rachel's journey.  5/5 stars-Highly recommended 

**Winner of the Belliwether Prize for Fiction**

Other reviews:

Jennifer at The Literate Housewife
The Bluestocking Guide


Unknown said...

Hey! Thanks for the link :-) You write a good review. I'm a new follower!

Marce said...

This one has been on my Wishlist for awhile, I think I will get to it before the year ends though.

Great review, this one seems to touch readers.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I so want to read this book; your post sounds enthusiastic...yay

Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

Thanks for linking! Nice review.