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The Girl Who Fell from the Sky: A Novel

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky: A Novel


The Girl Who Fell from the Sky: A Novel

valutazioni:
4/5 (127 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
6 ore
Pubblicato:
Feb 16, 2010
ISBN:
9781598879377
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

A timely and moving bicultural coming-of-age tale, based on a true story and told by an author who has struggled with the same issues as her protagonist.

The daughter of a Danish immigrant and a black G.I., Rachel survives a family tragedy only to face new challenges. Sent to live with her strict African-American grandmother in a racially divided Northwest city, she must suppress her grief and reinvent herself in a mostly black community. A beauty with light brown skin and blue eyes, she attracts much attention in her new home. The world wants to see her as either black or white, but that’s not how she sees herself.

Meanwhile, a mystery unfolds, revealing the terrible truth about Rachel’s last morning on a Chicago rooftop. Interwoven with her voice are those of Jamie, a neighborhood boy who witnessed the events, and Laronne, a friend of Rachel’s mother. Inspired by a true story of a mother’s twisted love, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky reveals an unfathomable past and explores issues of identity at a time when many people are asking “Must race confine us and define us?”

Narrated by an ensemble, with Emily Bauer (Rachel), Kathleen McInerney (Nella), and Karen Murray (Jamie, LaRone, Brick, Roger).

Pubblicato:
Feb 16, 2010
ISBN:
9781598879377
Formato:
Audiolibro

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  • (4/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    I'm still digesting all the elements of this story. It's quite compelling, and there some wonderful passages. There is also an underlying sense of melancholy, which is not a bad thing, but I think my actual rating would be more like three and a half stars. After a few days of rumination I may get energetic and put a real review on here.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (5/5)
    After her mother and two siblings plunge to their death from the ninth floor of their Chicago apartment house, Rachael Morse goes to Portland, ORE to live with her paternal grandmother. It is here that Rachael learns that the question of race will define her life.
    Her father, a black American serviceman, met her Danish mother when when he was stationed in Germany. Rachael grew up in the color-blind society of American air bases abroad, she spoke Danish and English, and she never realized that she was considered black, albeit with blue eyes.
    Heidi Durrow's poignant debut novel explores identity, loss, love, and acceptance. A very good read.
  • (4/5)
    Rachel is the main character in this novel. She is the bi-racial daughter of an African American service man and his Danish wife. Tragedy strikes the family when the mother moves to the USA with her three children and her boyfriend. It seems like the relationship is steeped in addictions, abuse and unhappiness. She jumps from the top of her apartments building with her three children. Rachel somehow survives and lives with her Grandmother in Portland.
  • (5/5)
    Another brilliant debut novel. The author deals sensitively with issues of race, identity, parenthood, sexuality, loyalty, honesty, and so much more. The tone is somewhat emotionally removed, perhaps because the subject matter is so emotionally loaded. The characters are never as simple as they first seem to be, they are always so much more nuanced, more complicated, and usually more troubled. The story, we learn is based on true events and the main character's racial background is the same as the author's, she has woven her identity and an event into a stunning novel that I can't stop thinking about. Great book club material!
  • (4/5)
    Rachel doesn't belong anywhere now that her Danish mother threw her away and her black military father stays away because he can't trust himself to be a proper parent. Raised in Europe at various Army bases, she is sent America to his mother. Everything is different. She previously had no concept of racial identity but now she is seen as Black. She needs to learn how to fit in with classmates and with her grandma's expectations.This story pulls you along, you won't want to put it down. It doesn't give you a pat ending, but does let you see how she adapts, as she learns that not all the options that look like love really offer any, and gets pointed in the right direction.
  • (5/5)
    Beautifully written book.
  • (4/5)
    This sad story is told in the spellbinding voices of several narrators, but it is truly Rachel's story. It is unique and memorable, and one I recommend.
  • (4/5)
    The story is very interesting, inventive, involved. It keeps you on your toes and you feel for the main gal, Rachel.....but....the story is told from multiple perspectives, and a lot of them are children. I find both these things a bit annoying. I dont want to give to much away and am glad to have read the back after finishing the book, as I feel it gave too much away even there. But, Rachel is a girl who finds herself living with her grandmother under not very nice circumstances. We basically get these circumstances spelled out to us over the course of the book, and the ultimate answer is delivered late. It is not a thriller or a crime novel, but does a good job in keeping you guessing without feeling like you are being teased with tidbits. I found the writing fairly simple, and not in a good way. It came over as too basic for the subject matter being explored (one of the hurdles of writing from the perspective of youngsters?). There is grief, racism, abandonment, violence and more. At times I found it all a bit gratuitous. But (again), the story itself was compelling enough to carry it for me.
  • (4/5)
    An interesting read. It was a sad, yet haunting coming of age book.
  • (4/5)
    "I want them to know how much I love them. I love them and will keep them safe. My children are one half of black. They are also one half of me. I want them to be anything. They are not just a color that people see." This book was an insightful work of fiction about racial inequality and prejudice. It was also a coming of age story told through Rachel's perspective as she comes to terms with who she is, her traumatic past, and the expectations that others put upon her. I felt a reality through the author's narrative that was relevant and full of integrity.
  • (4/5)
    This book was beautifully written, however, the ending seemed very rushed. An extra 20 pages to help conclude the plot would have been appreciated. Overall, a very good read.
  • (5/5)
    Beautiful book--elegant and understated, yet somehow deeply emotional at the same time. Durrow's story is unexpected, sad, and hopeful. Worth all of the accolades it has received. I love how the author took the events of a tragic story she read about in a news paper and intertwined them with her own past to create these characters. An impressive feat of writing and imagination.
  • (4/5)
    Growing up biracial. Pulled a lot from her own childhood, apparently, added a great conflict at the center - good example of exploring a personal issue within/around an intriguing plot. I loved the way she wove the stories of two different children together. My copy had an interview with her at the end, was quite interesting to learn she also grew up with a Scandinavian mother.
  • (4/5)
    A disturbing book about what a mother does in the name of love and loss and out of hopeless despair. Tragedy fills the life of "the girl who fell from the sky". But also entwined within the fabric of this tale is the identitiy of a mixed race child and the feelings she has coping and dealing with thinking you are different. It is interesting to learn how she evolves into the person she becomes and I was hooked on knowing the outcome from the first page. Also loved how another life that was deeply affected by the tragedy was weaved in and out of the story to make a tightly held together emotional tapestry that left me feeling like there is hope for a better future in store for these children! Great story.
  • (4/5)
    The story is very interesting, inventive, involved. It keeps you on your toes and you feel for the main gal, Rachel.....but....the story is told from multiple perspectives, and a lot of them are children. I find both these things a bit annoying. I dont want to give to much away and am glad to have read the back after finishing the book, as I feel it gave too much away even there. But, Rachel is a girl who finds herself living with her grandmother under not very nice circumstances. We basically get these circumstances spelled out to us over the course of the book, and the ultimate answer is delivered late. It is not a thriller or a crime novel, but does a good job in keeping you guessing without feeling like you are being teased with tidbits. I found the writing fairly simple, and not in a good way. It came over as too basic for the subject matter being explored (one of the hurdles of writing from the perspective of youngsters?). There is grief, racism, abandonment, violence and more. At times I found it all a bit gratuitous. But (again), the story itself was compelling enough to carry it for me.
  • (5/5)
    The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is a the story of a biracial girl who doesn't realize that her skin color and her blue eyes make a difference in the world. It is the 1980s in Seattle when 5th grader Rachel moves in with her black grandmother and aunt after her mother and two siblings fall to their death. Rachel's father, although still living, is not in the picture. Smart and pretty, Rachel navigates her way through a world where people have predisposed ideas about race. If you liked Toni Morrison's Bluest Eye, you will like this beautifully written book.
  • (4/5)
    'The Girl Who Fell From the Sky' is a quick read that follows the life of Rachel after a tragic event in her family. It's interesting and heartbreaking to see how someone would cope with something like this and even how it affects others. There is also a theme of it being impossible to know every detail of a story, even if it is your own. If Rachel had known all of the details to her story, it may have made things easier for her. Some of the sentences made me stop and re-read them a few times, they are so good. One of the characters in 'The Girl Who Fell From the Sky' shares a first name with Nella Larson, the author who wrote 'Passing', a book about strong female biracial characters first published in 1929. Nella of Darrow's book is not as strong as Larson's characters, but meet a similar fate. There is a definite influence from 'Passing' here (and Darrow also mentions a news story she heard that started the idea for writing it). 'Passing' just happened to be another book I read for a Bookcrossing bookray a while back.This book reminds me of Danzy Senna's 'Caucasia', another fantastic book about a girl of mixed race growing up in difficult circumstances (and both books are set only a few years apart in the 70s/80s). If I didn't love 'Caucasia' so much, and was willing to give up my copy, it definitely would have been my choice for the go-along book to the next reader. I'd reccommend it to anyone that liked this book. This also reminded me of Toni Morrison and Edwidge Danticat's writing. I will probably read anything that Barbara Kingsolver gives the Bellwether prize to, as I'm a definite fan of Kingsolver's work. I'm glad I read this one and I'm looking forward to Darrow's next book.
  • (3/5)
    This was a good book, well written, interesting topic, not exactly the most positive or upbeat book I've ever read but it did address some difficult topics and handled prejudice in a different and thought provoking way. Worth the read!
  • (3/5)
    This book was well written, I enjoyed the ease of reading it and beauty was not sacrificed. However, I was disappointed in the ending, as I felt the story was far from finished.Perhaps it is just me, but I find when an author writers a story so similar to their own lives, that it lessens my opinion of their skill. This story touched on many very important topics, and it was worded wonderfully - but then Rachael is Heidi.
  • (4/5)
    Another story written from multiple points of view which jumps back and forth through time. That seems to be the zeitgeist these days.The story is about Rachel, a biracial child who survives a horrible tragedy that takes away her family, and Brick, the little boy who saw Rachel and her family fall from the sky. It is a coming of age story for both of them with two primary aspects to their coming of age:- dealing with the tragedy which they share.- dealing with the fact that their appearance differs from the expectations of others.Their are other aspects of identity addressed in the story including the language, cultural, and racial aspects of identity. The story is a worthy story. The writing is uneven and the story feels choppy as the narrative jumps between characters and skips through blocks of time.
  • (4/5)
    Rachel lives with her grandmother because her mother, in a fit of depression, pushed her children and jumped off the roof of a nine-storey apartment complex. Rachel survived.This is the sort of book that I don't necessarily like while I'm reading, but as it lingers in my mind and I turn over elements of it in my thoughts, I realize how powerful and beautiful it was. The structure is a little difficult. Rachel's narrates her parts of the story, while the experiences of Laronne (her mother's boss), Jamie (the boy who witnessed her brother falling), and others are interspersed in a story that covers about five years in non-chronological order. As if her mother's suicide and her siblings' deaths weren't enough to deal with, Rachel is of mixed race, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black father. But the book doesn't read like an "issues" book, it's just Rachel's story of adolescence, growing up, finding her identity and understanding her past. It's very internal, almost a collection of impressions rather than a straightforward plot. A few sentences made me stop in my tracks because I had to think about them, rather than rush on to the end. The story itself is how Rachel describes the blues: storing up all sorts of sadness, but making something beautiful out of it.
  • (4/5)
    Wonderful read....very sad, but with a hopeful ending!
  • (4/5)
    This remarkable novel is based on a true event, which makes it all the more poignant. Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and black father, is the lone survivor of an horrendous family tragedy. She leaves Chicago to live with her paternal grandmother in Portland, Oregon where the issues of her biracial identity continue to plague her. Algonquin Books publishes unique and noteworthy fiction, and this book is no exception.
  • (4/5)
    Loved! Destined to become a classic.
  • (4/5)
    This well-written novel tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a black US serviceman and a white Danish mother. Growing up in Europe, Rachel and her family had a very different experience with race than they encountered on their return to the US. As the story of how Rachel came to live with her grandmother and aunt unfolds, the terrible central tragedy of Rachel's life is revealed. As Rachel grows up trying to reconcile what she knows about herself and her family with the life her grandmother wants her to lead, she is torn by conflicting demands and the pressures of developing her own self identity. A powerful and moving narrative.
  • (5/5)
    There was nothing I did not like about this book. It was a gripping read and it is very readable.I like the use of multiple-narrators as I like knowing diffent parts of the story. I like that in this novel some of the narrators are relatively minor characters such as Nella's boss. I also like the use of diaries in novels. So win-win really.The characters were all distinct individuals who fitted into the novel well - no one was over-powering.I didn't give it 5 stars because I was hoping it didn't end there ... I wanted to know what happened next.I do think this would be a great book for using at school with 16 - 18 year olds. Great themes and characters. In saying that, it's not a Young Adult book - it is an adult novel, so don't be put off by my suggestion.I would highly recommend this novel if you like novels where characters search for their identity or for a better understanding of themselves, their lost family and their worlds.
  • (4/5)
    This is a multi-layered story told from varied points of view, as well as from different points in time. Loosely speaking, it's a coming-of-age novel about a girl growing up in her grandmother's house, after a tragic incident takes the lives of her mother & siblings. As she struggles to come to terms with her identity (her mother being Danish, her father being African-American), she discovers that she can't just be herself -- society places her in one category or another because of her skin color. Meanwhile, the reader is gradually enligtened as to the timeline that led up to the family tragedy.I read this on audio, and while I was initially confused in trying to orient time, place, & point of view, I eventually really came to appreciate the format of this story, as well as the story itself. This is a novel that begs for discussion, as it presents several controversial topics. Definitely worth a read.
  • (4/5)
    I love novels that are told from different characters' points of view. In The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, the author gives us three alternating narrators. Twelve-year old Rachel has survived a terrible tragedy (well, she has survived physically, at least), and her life and her sense of self change drastically when she is sent to be raised by her grandmother in Portland, Oregon. Jamie, the son of a junkie prostitute, has witnessed the tragedy and becomes obsessed with it. Unbeknownst to her, he visits Rachel in the hospital, where he befriends her father. The man tells him a story and makes him promise to tell it to Rachel one day--a promise that pushes Jamie to leave home and change his identity. The third voice, which we don't begin to hear until later in the novel, is that of Rachel's mother, Nella; we hear her only through her brief but painful diary entries.In Portland, young Rachel finds herself trying to understand not only the events leading up to her mother's tragic decision but her own racial identity--or the lack of it. "Light skinned-ed" with blue eyes, she is the daughter of an African-American soldier and a Danish woman (like Durrow herself). Never before has she had to answer the question, "What are you?" But living with her black grandmother and aunt leads others to answer the question for her, and she struggles with the fact that people expect her to choose to be labelled either black or white rather than to be herself, "a story." Durrow's moving novel is finely written, spare and and at times poetic: images of birds, flying, and falling pervade the narrative, almost acting like a framework. The author merges her personal experiences with those of Rachel, making her character's thoughts and feelings all the more believable. While not a story that I want to say that I "enjoyed," I appreciated its artful telling, its fine characterizations, and its illumination of issues that I hadn't really thought about deeply before.
  • (5/5)
    One of the best YA/crossovers I've read in awhile. I read this book in about 2 nights.
  • (4/5)
    It's easy to see why there's so much fuss over this novel. Much as Nella Larsen did in her exemplary novel Passing and the novel Quicksand, Heidi Durrow explores both interracial and intraracial racism in a compelling and unique way. Throughout the novel, there are several nods to Larsen (the mother named Nella, the protagonist who is half black and half Danish, the exploration of racial tensions in America when compared with the more colorblind European societies, the epigraph taken from Passing). However, while it's clear that Durrow was inspired by Larsen, there's never any doubt that this novel is Durrow's own. Set in the 1980's, the novel primarily follows the story of Rachel Morse, the only survivor of a tragic accident that claimed her mother, her brother, and her sister. Her father, who serves in the military, is too grief-stricken to take care of her and instead sends her to live with her grandmother in Portland, Oregon. Feeling abandoned and alone, Rachel creates a new identity for herself and tries to cope with her increasing alienation. Having grown up in the more racially tolerant Europe, the biracial Rachel struggles with the sudden realization that she is black--but not black enough. She's taunted for her light skin, her soft hair, and her startling light blue eyes. Her black peers think she's an "Oreo," talking and behaving as if she were white. Her grandmother tries to reshape Rachel's past, obliterating any positive memories she may have of her white mother. As Rachel grows up, she struggles to find acceptance and belonging (looking, as most teenage girls do, in all of the wrong places), confronts being seen as a beautiful object and an exotic curiosity by the men in her life, hopes for a future that may hold more than a secretarial job and a three bedroom house, and unearths the truth about what happened on the day that she and her family fell from the sky. The novel is not for readers who like linear narrative. Instead, it's fragmented into chapters that are told from the varying perspectives of Rachel, Jamie (a boy who witnessed the tragedy and who may be the only remaining link between Rachel and her father), Nella (Rachel's Danish mother who doesn't know how to cope with living in a society that judges her children by their skin color), Roger (Rachel's father), and Laronne (Nella's employer who is left to clean up what's left of the family's belongings and to try to piece together the reasons why the family fell apart). Each character is given a distinct voice and backstory that somehow intersects with Rachel; I could easily believe them to be real people. Because the novel moves from past to present and between these points of view, there are no quick and easy answers and reading often feels like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle. However, the end result is a realistic portrayal of how tragedy can destroy a life, but that the resilient can eventually prevail.