This is the debut novel of Heidi W. Durrow and highlights characters who all struggle to make sense of a world they don’t belong in, racially or economically. The topic of this novel is extremely pertinent to our times, particularly with Rachel’s struggles with negotiating race as a biracial person and having to categorize life along racial lines.
Rachel’s struggles with race, upon living with her grandmother in the U.S., highlights how racialized American society is. Not that Rachel did not experience racism when she lived abroad, but it was racism with the same name and a different face. Racism is intertwined into the histories of countries in different ways and so it doesn’t always look the same. Doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, just means that you have to be aware that it might manifest itself in different forms.
The story within itself is very much left up to the reader to discern. There is a lot of ambiguity in the plot, and it is up to the reader to decipher it. It is a slow-paced book, the writing is not dramatized. It is a mellow style of writing that leaves a lot for the imagination.
The central theme of the book is that of identity; it is a story of searching for the north star that will help you navigate in a society that sees only what is skin-deep. It is a coming of age novel, mixed in with the mysteries that life bring. What would drive a mom to throw herself and her kids off a roof?
Although this book has garnered a lot of attention, I was not enamored with the writing style or the plot. It is a good read, but the ambiguity present throughout the book did not appeal to me. In addition, I was not able to connect with Rachel (main character). The other characters of the book were much more interesting, particularly, Jamie/Brick.
Nevertheless, this book is an essential biracial narrative as more and more individuals find themselves identifying as such. It is crucial that individuals like Heidi Durrow, who has such a unique upbringing and background, share her story with others for it always helps to know that you are not the only one out there.
“I’m not the color of my skin. I’m a story. One with a past and a future unwritten.”
― Heidi W. Durrow