Thursday, October 14, 2010
The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
This book tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish woman and an African American man. It is a powerful story dealing with racial issues. Rachel's mother, whom she calls Mor (mother in Danish), does not see race until she moves from Europe to America. After that it becomes such a powerful force to her she takes a desperate action to protect her children from being black. Rachel is the only member of her family to live through that act.
Rachel is biracial so she encounters bigotry from both sides. She is dismissed by the other students at her school because she acts white. Characters of both races are fully developed with failings as well as good qualities.
There are some coincidences in the story that are a bit of a distraction, but those aside, it is a beautifully written work filled with a great deal of power. It is written in a non-linear fashion that confused me a bit until I got used to the style. After I understood the time shifts I liked the choice to write it that way.
My one objection to the story was the treatment of a minor character who was homosexual. This was the husband of Rachel's aunt, who had died of Aids before the story began. He was described as funny and as willing to be with anyone. This struck me as odd in a book that handled other prejudices so well. I brought up the issue with my wife who said she felt the comments were simply true to the characters who spoke them. I suppose that's true, but I was still disappointed in the way that issue was dealt with.
Overall, I felt this book was wonderful. I would recommend it to anyone. I read it twice.