Heidi Durrow is one of the founders of the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival (see Links page), and the Mixed Chicks Chat podcast. Her book won the Bellweather Prize for fiction, anf was just published this year. It’s a gem of a novel, please pick it up and support it!
Synopsis from Mixed Roots Festival site:
This debut novel tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I. who becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy. With her strict African American grandmother as her new guardian, Rachel moves to a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring mixed attention her way. Growing up in the 1980s, she learns to swallow her overwhelming grief and confronts her identity as a biracial young woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white. Meanwhile, a mystery unfolds, revealing the terrible truth about Rachel’s last morning on a Chicago rooftop. Interwoven are the voices 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?
- “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. …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 have a language I don’t know but I understand” (10).
- “…they way they say that – white girl – it feels like a dangerous thing to be” (28).
- “I think about the things that made Pop feel alone, right in front of us, his own family. …He never told he was black. He never told us that we were” (80).
- “That makes me think of how the other black girls in school think I want to be white. They call me an Oreo. I don’t want to be white. Sometimes I want to go back to being what I was. I want to be nothing” (148).
- “I forget that being what you are – black or white- matters. Jesse makes me see that there’s a different way to be white. And Brick makes me see there is a different way to be black” (202).
This is Part Two of a four-part interview done with Durrow by a youtube commentator on mixed race.