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.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.
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 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."
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.