Heidi W. Durrow: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
Stuck in the middle
This first novel won the 2008 Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver to recognize fiction that addresses issues of social injustice. Durrow, a Portland, Ore., native, tackles a Great American Problem—race. It’s a subject worth any number of books, now more than ever.
Our story: Rachel, a young woman with a Danish mother and an African-American father, survives a tragedy that kills all the family she knows. She moves in with a strict African-American grandmother and experiences the world of black Americans for the first time. With her blue eyes and light skin, she learns what so many others have—it’s not easy to grow up betwixt and between.
Durrow herself is biracial, and she writes capably on this subject. Still, she doesn’t always succeed in making you feel for her characters or believe her plot. Or perhaps I failed to more completely identify because I’m a white man. Other readers may be more powerfully moved, feeling to the bone the slights, grievances and complications that escape me.