COSTCO HAS 50 SIGNED COPIES of Heidi W. Durrow’s The Girl Who Fell from the Sky to give away. For a chance to win, send an e-mail with your name and mailing address to
firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Heidi W. Durrow” in the subject line. Or print your name, address and daytime phone number on a postcard or letter and send it to: Heidi Durrow, The Costco Connection, P.O. Box 34088, Seattle, WA 98124-1088. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS WEEPSTAKES. Purchase will not improve odds of winning. Sweepstakes is ponsored by Algonquin Books, P.O. Box 2225, Chapel Hill, NC 27515. Open to legal residents of the U. S. (except Puerto Rico) who are age 18 or older at the time of entry. One entry per household. Entries must be received by April 1, 2011. Winners will be randomly selected and noti;ed by mail on or before May 1, 2011. The value of the prize is $13.95. Void where prohibited. Winners are responsible for all applicable federal, state and local taxes. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Employees of Costco orAlgonquin and their families are not eligible. Signed book giveaway of advice in the stack of rejection letters and began editing the novel with fragile, if not renewed, hope. She explains, “The thing I did not keep out, and the thing I definitely de- cided to put in the book, was my heart. I put in every ounce of feeling I had about all these issues related to identity, family, continuity and other things.” Ten years into weaving pieces of her emo- tional self into Rachel’s story, Durrow sub- mitted her manuscript to the 2008 Bellwether Prize for Literature of Social Change. Durrow says she will never forget the call she received from Barbara Kingsolver, the prize’s founder, saying she’d won. In addition to vindication for a decade of hard work, the prize included a publishing contract. It changed her life. For Durrow, who currently divides her time between New York City and Los Angeles, her longtime dream of writing novels stood at odds with her fear of reliving poverty. Welfare was no stranger to her family. She became the first on both sides of her family to attend a four-year college. She majored in journalism at Stanford, gained a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia and id not stop until she had earned a Yale law degree. Life in a bustling law firm, however, left too little time for creative writing, so she morphed into a life-skills trainer for NBA and NFL athletes. That seasonal job provided her with more time to write, co-host a broadcast on the mixed-heritage experience via a podcast at her website,
www.heididurrow.com, and co- create the annual Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival. Now, writing full time has opened the door to a new novel set in a traveling circus touring London and Paris during the 1800s. The plot will drop readers into a drama en- compassing a biracial Venus of a trapeze artist, renowned artist Edgar Degas, who book pick The girl who fell from the sky immortalized her beauty on canvas, and the contrasting experiences of a young girl tour- ing in the freak show who has long hair sprouting over her entire body. The rest is evolving. At present, Durrow must absorb the fact hat her first novel is out in the world and people relate to The Girl Who Fell from the Sky on all levels. “It is such a joy and a delight,” she xclaims, “I really could not have imagined what has happened to the book.” C Author explores race and identity ROM THE MOMENT I first saw the title, I knew I had to read Heidi W. Durrow’s The Girl Who Fell from the Sky. It begged so many questions: Who is this girl? How did she come to fall from the sky (of all places)? And what’s going to happen to her now? Durrow had me spellbound By Gloria Blakely IT IS HARD to believe The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, a Los Angeles Times best-selling novel by Heidi W. Durrow, almost failed to be pub- lished. Publisher after publisher passed on the drama swelling around a girl who has lost her family to tragedy. This girl, Rachel, hurting from the loss and leaning on denial, seeks solid footing in a world full of edges. Her challenges are great. The blue-eyed, bi- racial child (her back- ground is similar to Durrow’s own African- American and Danish eritage) is taken in by her African-American grandmother, who lives in Portland, Oregon—the author’s home- town. Rachel evidences naiveté about racial identity and relationships, and longs for love and her parents and siblings. Other warm and surprisingly quixotic characters complete the tale. To Durrow, the story is as relatable as it gets. After all, it was inspired by a real child survivor chronicled in a haunting newspaper article. Starting in 1997, Durrow became obsessed with voicing a young character who transcends tragedy and survival. Yet, more than three dozen rejections met his compelling fiction. The book resists cat- egorizing, much the way Rachel defies con- ventional labels in the book, and publishers were unable to see how her survival story fit into their readers’ world. “The rejections were crushing,” Durrow admits. Her quest nearly ended in a waterfall of tears, until her husband directed her to wait in her favorite chair. He reappeared from the kitchen with champagne, olives, almonds and cheese to help them work through the sadness together. The next morning, Durrow found pearls Heidi W. Durrow F from the start. Her debut novel tells the believable story of Rachel, a girl with brown skin and blue eyes. She’s forced to make sense of both what’s been left behind and what lies ahead. Trapped between races—a place not so unlike the no man’s land between heaven and earth—Rachel struggles to understand relationships and figure out where she fits in. I see Rachel as a person who doesn’t want to be forced into convenient categories. She just wants to be who she is. Like so many of us, she is just looking for a soft place to land. Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco book buyer For more book picks, see page 61.
TIMOTHI JANE GRAHAM
Gloria Blakely is the co-author or author
of eight books and numerous journalism
pieces, including articles about Philadelphia
MARCH 2011 ;e Costco Connection 59