Posts Tagged Heidi Durrow

BEST OF 2010: FICTION

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan [Knopf]
–Egan writes with impressive attention to detail and possesses the ability to craft a unique, humorous and riveting portrait of two people invested in the challenging and ever-changing music industry.

The Dissemblers by Liza Campbell [Permanent Press]
–Through lyrical prose and stimulating descriptions, Campbell deftly transports the reader to Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico. She propels us inside an artist’s mind and twists a complex morality tale.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender [Doubleday]
–Bender writes exquisitely. The fairy-tale magic realism propelling this novel is charming and irresistible.

Solar by Ian McEwan [Nan A. Talese]
–crazy story told with McEwan’s brilliant style [simultaneously amusing and uncomfortable] about a physicist working with alternative energy sources including wind power and solar

If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black [Random House]
–exquisitely crafted, eclectic collection of short stories

City of Veils by Zoe Ferraris [Little, Brown and Company]
–Ferraris illuminates the varying levels of religious devotion and the status of women in Saudi Arabia from several viewpoints. It contains plenty of twists and thought-provoking cultural situations.

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart [Random House]
–Shteyngart brilliantly describes a dystopian future with fantastically elaborate detail through emails, IM exchanges and diary entries.

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper [Plume]
–Tropper has quickly become one of my favorite writers for his sensitive and often hilarious insight on relationships.

Small Kingdoms by Anastasia Hobbet [Permanent Press]
–beautifully crafted a complex, layered story about the abuse of a household servant in Kuwait. Moving from character to character and each individual story, Hobbet provides a rich background about life in Kuwait and the complex structure of the Middle East where class divisions remain strong, Americans and British are simultaneously despised and coveted, arcane laws and customs remain in place, yet Kuwait, compared to other Arab nations appears modern.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow [Algonquin Books]
–provocative and creative coming-of-age in the 1980s story. Blue-eyed, mocha-skinned Rachel is the daughter of a black GI-father and a Danish mother. The sole survivor of a Chicago rooftop tragedy, the 12-year-old ends up at her boozing and opinionated grandmother’s house in Portland, Ore.

Emily Hudson by Melissa Jones [Pamela Dorman Books]
–Jones has created a rousing feminist character in Emily. She’s outspoken and likely to shun conventionality. Emily’s a bit ahead of her time. Women are supposed to be married off by a certain age and then be relegated to the kitchen and drawing room, only to come out for parties and entertaining. And to be an artist at this time? It’s rather unusual and Emily certainly meets those who doubt her talents and capability to make it out there on her own, including her dear cousin William.

How to Survive a Natural Disaster by Margaret Hawkins [Permanent Press]
–astute family drama filled with betrayal, envy, lies, discord, tragedy and forgiveness. It packs a real punch and will stay with you for days after you finish its last page.

The Wolves of Andoverr by Kathleen Kent [Reagan Arthur]
–I really liked this novel for a number of reasons. It provides a detailed, rich description of daily life in 17th century Massachusetts. Smallpox travels through the town and I’m fascinated by infectious disease and how it’s contained. Kent takes the reader to England for its civil war. And the wolves? There are two kinds of wolves in this novel and they are sneaky and vicious.

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin [Grand Central]
–Martin delves into the complicated New York art world and particularly into the life of art dealer Lucy Yeager. Like an Edith Wharton novel, this glitzy, posh scene has its nuanced participants and sinister underbelly.

Something Redby Jennifer Gilmore [Scribner]
–Gilmore instills equal parts cheerfulness and solemnity throughout this meditative second novel. It’s a superb reflection on the connection between external events and our psyches.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

book review: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky


Title: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
Author: Heidi W. Durrow
ISBN: 978-1565126800
Pages: 256
Publisher: Algonquin Books; 1 edition (February 16, 2010)
Category: literary/contemporary fiction
Review source: publisher
Rating: A

I am light skinned-ed. That’s what the other kids say. And I talk white. I think new things when they say this. There are a lot of important things I didn’t know about. I think Mor didn’t know either. They tell me it is bad to have ashy knees. They say stay out of the rain so my hair doesn’t go back. They say white people don’t use washrags, and I realize now, at Grandma’s, I do. They have a language I don’t know but I understand. I learn that black people don’t have blue eyes. I learn that I am black. I have blue eyes. I put all these new fact into the new girl.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is a provocative and creative coming-of-age in the 1980s story. Blue-eyed, mocha-skinned Rachel is the daughter of a black GI-father and a Danish mother. The sole survivor of a Chicago rooftop tragedy, the 12-year-old ends up at her boozing and opinionated grandmother’s house in Portland, Ore. Rachel spent most of her early years in Europe where she felt very comfortable in her skin and her mother wasn’t eyed strangely for toting around three children with skin shades darker than her own. Now back stateside, she’s struggling with her identity. A bookish girl, Rachel reads voraciously and favors history. Rachel is not easily labeled and that confuses many of her peers. Other black girls pick on her because of her eyes, light skin, and manner of speaking. Boys cannot figure out her exotic looks and demeanor.

Author Heidi Durrow spent years writing The Girl Who Fell from the Sky based on some of her own experiences. The novel provides further introspection. People still have issues with educated black people sounding “too white” or acting “better” than other black people or “selling out.” If you watch Oprah, she talks different ways depending on her audience and guests. Look at the critique that President Obama sometimes receives. And of course there was the entire questioning his race thing. White mother/ black father. What is so confusing? Isn’t America a big Melting Pot? Durrow crafts a beautiful story delving into a teenage girl’s psyche. Rachel overcomes past tragedy and current conflict as she becomes comfortable being Rachel. A unique individual. Using mysterious elements and a measured reveal, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky leaves the reader with many questions to ponder and is a must-read.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky was a February Indie Next Pick.

Shop Indie Bookstores

shop Amazon:
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

, , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: