Rachel deals with the issue of racial identity as a subtext to the circumstances surrounding what leads to her mother and siblings' deaths. The fragmented pieces she recalls are supplemented by journal entries of her mother, Nella, her mother's former boss, Lauronne, and the boy who witnessed Rachel's tragedy, Brick. The near obsession with her need to identify as black seems extraneous as Rachel does not struggle so much with this as do those around her. Meanwhile, her grandmother refuses to acknowledge her Danish mother thereby ignoring that she's of mixed race. I became enthralled with Rachel as she grew into a teenager who tried to remain true to her own identity simply as her mother's daughter and the naivete that came along with adoring a mother whose actions were disturbingly tragic.
Durrow's use of language and plot is what really makes this novel fresh and engaging. Characterization could have been a bit more developed but what we do get are real and unpretentious people that many readers will recognize. In spite of a hazy conclusion, I still adore this book and the writer. Heidi Durrow's The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is not a perfect piece of literature but, it is courageous and poetic.