Monday, November 30, 2009
A Book Worth Waiting For in the New Year
The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi W. Durrow (Algonquin)
coming in February 2010, reviewed by Jackie B.
It says a lot that this debut novel has already won The Bellwether Prize (an award for literary fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships). It says a lot that Durrow is being compared to Toni Morrison, Nella Larsen and the early Langston Hughes. What can't be said until you read it for yourself is how deeply the reader will grow to care for Rachel, the lone survivor of her mother's attempted murder/suicide (her brother and baby sister were no so lucky) who has come to live with her grandmother in Portland in the early 1980s. Rachel is biracial, but her remaining extended family and the kids at school see her as black, something Rachel had never before thought about. This coming of age drama is woven into the mystery of what happened to push her mother over the edge and is told over the course of several years. It's full of characters whose whole lives were changed that day by the tragedy that day , and things come full circle in a deeply meaningful and satisfying way.
I found it very difficult to put this book down. This is a powerful read and an amazing first novel by a new voice to watch in literary fiction.