I love the Multnomah County library system. Not only are the shelves well-stocked, but the librarians are extremely helpful and knowledgeable (I'm very impressed with their current 'Doctor Who' promotion/contest). A small branch located close to my neighborhood recently opened, and I'm happy that I don't have to drive so far to satisfy my book hunger. I'm also proud to say that our library system is the oldest west of the Mississippi.
The library promotes reading all the time, but one of the biggest promotions is the year-long event called 'Everybody Reads'. Everyone, including our local paper, The Oregonian, participates in this wonderful event.
'The Girl Who Fell from the Sky', written by Portland native Heidi W. Durrow, is this year's choice. The book, which won the 2008 Bellwether Prize for fiction, addresses social injustice via the eyes of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I. The sole survivor of a family tragedy, Rachel is sent to live with her African-American grandmother, a strict and unyielding woman. While Rachel was taught by her mother to think of herself as white, she is now told she must 'act black'.
Ms. Durrow's style is easy on the eyes, but tough on the brain. She makes you think; she makes you care. And you feel Rachel's grief. You want to hold her and tell her that she's a human being first, worthy of success. While Rachel's 'survivor guilt' is overwhelming for such a young girl, it's totally understandable.
'Everybody Reads' will be sponsoring Heidi Durrow's appearance at the Arlene Schnitzer concert hall in Portland, Oregon on March 6, 2012, at 7:30 p.m.