21 January 2011

Imprint Friday: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Algonquin Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

Most of you have probably at least heard of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow. It was the winner of the 2008 Bellwether Prize for "for best fiction manuscript addressing issues of social justice." The novel tells the story of a young biracial girl trying to find her place in the world after a personal tragedy.

Here is the publisher's summary:

Rachel, the daughter of a danish mother and a black G.I., becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy after a fateful morning on their Chicago rooftop.

Forced to move to a new city, with her strict African American grandmother as her guardian, Rachel is thrust for the first time into a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring a constant stream of attention her way. It’s there, as she grows up and tries to swallow her grief, that she comes to understand how the mystery and tragedy of her mother might be connected to her own uncertain identity.
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky seems all at once to touch on both a specific issue (growing up biracial) and universal issues (self-identity, grief). It is not a book that has easy answers but is one that you will want talk about and mull over.

The best way I know to introduce you to the novel is to encourage you to watch this short video in which Durrow talks about the inspiration for her book and tells us what it's all about without giving anything away.


Bloggers have been almost unanimous in praising Durrow's writing. Some have felt the weight of Rachel's family tragedy, and some have wanted fellow readers to help them sort out their feelings. Here are two enthusiastic views:
  • From Bookslut: "Durrow knows how to write sympathetic characters and to maintain a reader’s interest. This short novel is one easily finished in a single sitting, not only because of its length, but also because Durrow knows how to write a book that is hard to put down."
  • From Love 2 Read for Fun!: "[A] book that touched me like no other book has. . . . When I finished this book, I had tears in my eyes. A heart-wrenching story written so beautifully. If you haven’t read it, you are truly missing out."
And finally, I wanted to share this 2-minute vlog review from the Capital Area District Library in Lansing, Michigan. The reviewer gives us a fuller sense of Rachel's story (again with no spoilers).


The Girl Who Fell from the Sky was an Indie Next pick for February 2010 and also made the Indie Reading Group List for winter 2011. To learn more about Heidi W. Durrow, visit her website, where you can also find an interesting video about her paternal grandmother. National Public Radio's All Things Considered aired a piece with Durrow in spring 2010; you can read their review and listen to the story on the NPR website.

This book was spotlighted as part of both my Imprint Fridays feature and my Get to know Algonquin Books feature. For more information about the imprint, please read Executive Editor Chuck Adams's introductory letter, posted here on January 7, 2011.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky at Powell's
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by Algonquin Books, 2010
ISBN-13: 9781565126800

19 comments:

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 1/21/11, 6:45 AM  

What a wonderful review. This book sounds like the type of story I enjoy. I must get to my copy soon.

farmlanebooks 1/21/11, 6:45 AM  

I have seen nothing but praise for this one and I'm sure I'll get round to reading it at some point. That library reviewer is great!

Julie P. 1/21/11, 7:05 AM  

Another one I've been meaning to get to!

Suzanne 1/21/11, 7:28 AM  

I just borrowed this ebook from the library! So looking forward to reading it. Great post today!

Vivienne 1/21/11, 7:49 AM  

I wander if this one is available in England.

Beth F 1/21/11, 7:56 AM  

Vivienne: since Book Depository sells it, I assume it's available throughout the UK.

bermudaonion 1/21/11, 9:01 AM  

This one sounds fantastic!!

Rural View 1/21/11, 10:24 AM  

This sounds like a must-read. It's on my list.

kaye 1/21/11, 10:48 AM  

this does sound like a good story.

Heather 1/21/11, 10:57 AM  

Thanks for featuring this book. I have only seen advertisements for it so far, and wanted to know what readers were feeling about it.

Kay 1/21/11, 11:52 AM  

I love Imprint Friday! I'm putting this one on my list for later this year. I lived in Portland, OR for a time and that will add to the appeal for me.

Literary Feline 1/21/11, 12:49 PM  

This one is sitting in my TBR collection and really sounds like it will be a great read. Thanks for featuring it here today!

Jenn's Bookshelves 1/21/11, 1:03 PM  

I may be one of the few bloggers who haven't read this one! Luckily, I have an interview lined up with the author so I'm excited to have the opportunity/time to pick it up & read it!

Helen's Book Blog 1/21/11, 7:56 PM  

My book just chose this one for our read this month so I am looking forward to reading it in the next few weeks having heard such good stuff about it

kikiv68 1/21/11, 9:19 PM  

Helen, your Book Club will love this book. There are so many themes you can talk about! I met the author at the Miami Book Fair and she is GREAT...She has a curriculum that anyone would-including me!- would kill to have and she is beautiful, inside and out. She is sooo down-to-earth....Great book!!!

Rebecca Rasmussen 1/22/11, 11:50 AM  

This is an excellent book...So excited for Heidi!

jupitersinclair 1/23/11, 2:52 PM  

This is one that I plan on reading this year. When it came out,I listened to an interview w/ the author on a podcast. I added it to my to-read list right away.

Andi 1/25/11, 4:03 PM  

This one is high on my wishlist.

Jen - devourer of books 1/27/11, 11:19 AM  

I've been hearing about this book for a year and now I have a copy in hardcover AND paperback. I need to get on it and get to this.

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