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Extended Audio Sample The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, by Heidi W. Durrow Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (10,154 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Heidi W. Durrow Narrator: Karen Murray, Emily Bauer, Kathleen McInerne Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A timely and moving bicultural coming-of-age tale, based on a true story and told by an author who has struggled with the same issues as her protagonist.

The daughter of a Danish immigrant and a black G.I., Rachel survives a family tragedy only to face new challenges. Sent to live with her strict African-American grandmother in a racially divided Northwest city, she must suppress her grief and reinvent herself in a mostly black community. A beauty with light brown skin and blue eyes, she attracts much attention in her new home. The world wants to see her as either black or white, but that’s not how she sees herself.

Meanwhile, a mystery unfolds, revealing the terrible truth about Rachel’s last morning on a Chicago rooftop. Interwoven with her voice are those of Jamie, a neighborhood boy who witnessed the events, and Laronne, a friend of Rachel’s mother. Inspired by a true story of a mother’s twisted love, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky reveals an unfathomable past and explores issues of identity at a time when many people are asking “Must race confine us and define us?”

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Thoughtful and thought provoking.”


  • “[An] insightful family saga of the toxicity of racism and the forging of the self…Durrow brings piercing authenticity to this provocative tale.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “The author examines familiar issues of racial identity and racism with a subtle and unflinching eye.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Taut prose, a controversial conclusion, and the thoughtful reflection on racism and racial identity resonate without treading into political or even overtly specific agenda waters, as the story succeeds as both a modern coming-of-age and relevant social commentary.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Hauntingly beautiful prose…Exquisitely told…Rachel’s tale has the potential of becoming seared in your memory.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “[An] affecting, exquisite debut novel…Durrow’s powerful novel is poised to find a place among classic stories of the American experience.”

    Miami Herald

  • “A heartbreaking debut…Keeps the reader in thrall.”

    Boston Globe

  • The Girl Who Fell from the Sky can actually fly…Its energy comes from its vividly realized characters…Durrow has a terrific ear for dialogue, an ability to summon a wealth of hopes, and fears in a single line.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Rachel’s voice resonated in my reading mind in much the same way as did that of the young protagonist of The House on Mango Street. There’s an achingly honest quality to it; both wise and naïve, it makes you want to step between the pages to lend comfort.”


  • “An auspicious debut…[Durrow] has crafted a modern story about identity and survival.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Stunning…What makes Durrow’s novel soar is her masterful sense of voice, her assured, nuanced handling of complex racial issues—and her heart.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is that rare thing: a post-postmodern novel with heart that weaves a circle of stories about race and self-discovery into a tense and sometimes terrifying whole.”

    Ms. Magazine

  • A Booklist Editors’ Choice
  • A Booklist Top 10 First Novel
  • A 2010 Washington Post Best Book for Fiction
  • Selected for the February 2010 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sheri | 2/18/2014

    " A really good debut novel (semi-autobiographical) about a biracial girl (Danish & African-American) whose family life is enveloped in more than enough tragedy for a lifetime, added to which is the uncertainty & identity crisis of her ethnic heritage. 80% of this book merits 5 stars. But the ending wasn't up to the rest of the novel, and the gaps in the narrative (dad, the red-haired guy, the mom's boss) towards the end really leave you hanging. Now that Durrow has mined her adolescence to write this 1st novel, I hope she's got something in reserve to write about next. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Alice | 2/14/2014

    " I liked this book, but I did not connect with it emotionally despite it being very sensitive and beautifully-written. I really enjoyed reading about the experiences of a biracial girl being brought up in an African-American community in Portland. But there is a big mystery that surrounds the book which never got resolved to my satisfaction. In fact, there are a number of plot twists which seemed unrealistic, that took place primarily so the main character would react to them. Still, I appreciated the book's artistry. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sandra Clark | 2/9/2014

    " The 2012 Everybody Reads book for Multnomah County Library. Very good pick for the program - I'm definitely looking forward to the discussions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Elise Thanasouras | 2/7/2014

    " Liked the way the story was delivered. (3/11) "

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About the Author
Author Heidi W. Durrow

Heidi Durrow is a graduate of Stanford, Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, and Yale Law School. She is the recipient of several fellowships including one from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Writers. She won top honors in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition and the Chapter One Fiction Contest. Her writing has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, the Literary Review, Yale Journal of Law, Feminism, Essence, and Newsday. She is the recipient of Barbara Kingsolvers Bellwether Prize for Literature of Social Change.