I am apparently the laziest of the lambs… coming in late with my post on our somewhat delayed post-deadline! But, here I am with the latest Lazy Lambs post!!
I was glad the Lazy Lambs agreed to read The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, by Heidi W. Durrow. The bulk of the story takes place in Portland Oregon, and I was ready to read a book that took place on familiar turf. It tells the story of a young girl, Rachel, as she grows up living with her grandmother following a traumatic event that left her Mom and siblings dead.
Both of their questions look at format and style in the book — mine is exploring a topic that has long interested me, and that is the creation of self. This book is, in many ways, about the creation of one’s own identity — on their own and in reflection of what others expect of them.
What do you think of the creation of “self” throughout the story?
Rachel is very clearly trying to find her own identity, navigating who she is in this new world, and this new life after such a tragedy. She is trying to find her place, establish who she is and navigate the identities of what is expected of her. Her grandmother holds expectations, her classmates hold expectations, her aunt does… and she has her own as well. She has expectations of herself to not be sad, to move on with her life and keep the sensitive parts locked away. but she fears what might come from this — if she will lose the self that she keeps lost inside – the her that has ties to the past.
There’s another layer of her identity creation that is involved with her race… she has a white mom, and a black dad, and has grown up primarily on military bases and overseas. She finds herself plunged into a world where being black is a very important part of her identity: “I am light-skinned-ed. That’s what the other kids say. And I talk white. I think new things when they say this. There are a lot of important things I didn’t know about. I think Mor [her mom] didn’t know either. They tell me it is bad to have ashy knees. They say stay out of the rain so my hair doesn’t go back. They say white people don’t use washrags, and I realize now, at Grandma’s I do. They have a language I don’t know but I understand. I learn that black people don’t have blue eyes. I learn that I am back. I have blue eyes. I put all these new facts into the new girl.”
Rachel isn’t the only one finding her identity, creating a new person following tragedy. There is the boy, Jamie, who takes on a new name and a new life as he searches for the girl who fell from the sky. There was Mor (Rachel’s mom) and Rachel’s Dad — both finding their own ways of navigating the world after their own series of tragedies.
I think that’s one of the pieces I really drew from this book was the ways that tragedy can shape us, but also about shaping ones own self -and that moving through the layers and tragedy to find ourselves sometimes takes the help of others.
Join us for our next book! In Mach we’ll be discussing We Should All Be Feminists, a non-fiction piece by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.