I’m not a big fan of books written with alternating narratives or (as I’ve mentioned in some previous reviews) fictional interpretations of African-Americans and their search for an identity in the Land of the Free, so when I started reading Heidi Durrow’s The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, I wasn’t all that psyched. It took me awhile to really become engaged with the plot. But it turns out, the book addresses the issue of racism/racial identity with quite a resonating voice. Although some parts of the book were quite predictable, I closed the book with a nod.
It is quite clear from the title of the book that the plot has some kind of correlation to suicide, or jumping off from some place. But on a more metaphorical level, it represents the alienation that the biracial protagonist, Rachel, feels when unwillingly placed in a minority setting. After growing up with her Danish mother in an majority-white neighborhood and receiving “white” education, Rachel feels defensive, different, and challenged when she is sent to live with her father’s mother who lives in an all-black town. With light brown skin and blue-green eyes, Rachel becomes more conscious about her biracial identity and journeys to reconnect with her biological roots. Some parts become a little too cliche, and some quite mundane. But it does tug your emotions here and there… Maybe I should read this again at a different time.
Self-identity crisis is something that everybody goes through. It doesn’t always have to be about race or ethnicity. Sometimes it’s hard to go through this phase, and most often than not, the “crisis” may never come to a solid solution/conclusion. But it’s more important that the process of figuring out an identity changed us for the better. Honestly, there isn’t an absolute identity for everyone. It changes with context, I think. We see things not as what they are but how we are. Anyway, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky wasn’t really award-winning (it won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction) but it’s a good read when you have a lot of time.
dee’s recommendation: 3/5