Author: Heidi Durrow
Genre: Adult fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Challenges: Book group; PoC
FTC Disclosure: I bought this book
Summary (from the back of the book): In the aftermath of a family tragedy, a biracial girl must cope with society's ideas of race and class in this acclaimed novel, winner of the Bellweather Prize for fiction addressing issues of social justice.
Review: When we read the brief description of this book, the praise from various sources, and then the first page I was ready to read it. Race and class issues? Tragedy and hope? Great writing? Let's do it.
But, all that was not to be. I wanted to love this book, to feel for Rachel, the main character, to really understand what being biracial was like for this little girl. That just didn't happen for me. It's not that I didn't like the book, it just wasn't as good as I had thought it was going to be.
The book is narrated by a number of characters, which is a style I usually like, however, in this book it just felt choppy with the back and forth between people and time. Here's a better summary of the story since the back doesn't really say much about it: The book starts out with Rachel, whose mother is white and whose father is African-American, leaving a hospital to live with her African-American grandmother and we know some tragedy has befallen the rest of her family. Chapters then alternate between Rachel, Brick (a boy she knew in Chicago), and Laronne (a woman who worked with Rachel's mother), and Roger (Rachel's dad). Slowly the truth is revealed about what happened to Rachel's family and we see Rachel growing into a teen.
I wanted more introspection from Rachel and more on how she felt about being bi-racial, losing her family, and how it affected her growing up. I feel like this book had so much potential, but it just didn't live up to it.
This book takes place in both Chicago where Rachel lived with her mother and siblings and in Washington State where she lives with her grandmother. The book definitely could have had more description of these cities and neighborhoods. Click to see my updated Google Map.