The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, the debut novel by Heidi Durrow, is a story that will make you ache in all the best ways. Barbara Kingsolver chose it as the winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction in 2008, and it was published by Algonquin in 2010. It is a story simply told, as in
I want to write something/so simply/about love/or about pain/that even/as you are reading/you feel it…*
264 pages, 2 parts, and 6 points of view. With solid details like ten-dollar bills wrapped in aluminum foil.
On page one, Rachel is leaving the hospital. On page two, she refers to the accident. What has already happened is revealed (not here) slowly over time, never making us angry or confused and building a picture we want to resist for so many reasons but that ultimately we can’t avoid seeing.
From Rachel, who is in sixth grade when the book begins:
I am caught in before and after time. Last-time things and firsts. (8)
Grandma uses a sharp comb and it feels like she’s dividing me in half. (11)
From Jamie, who will adopt the strong name Brick:
When he finally reached the courtyard, he saw that his bird was not a bird at all. His bird was a boy and a girl and a mother and a child. (19)
With assured echoes from the beginning of the book to the end and from mother to child, The Girl who Fell from the Sky is at the same time a story we have never read before (as Barbara Kingsolver writes on its cover) and a story we all carry with us.