Sunday, June 29, 2014

When I Fell From the Sky

When I Fell From the Sky: The True Story of One Woman's Miraculous Survival
by Juliane Koepcke

Genre: Memoir

Synopsis: On December 24, 1971, seventeen-year-old Juliane and her mother, a well known naturalist, boarded a LANSA airplane in Peru to meet her father for Christmas.  They fought to get some of the last seats available, and felt thankful to have made the flight.

Their plane flew into a volatile thunderstorm and was obliterated, killing 91 passengers.  The teenage girl fell two miles through the sky and landed in the Peruvian jungle, commonly referred to as the Amazon.

Juliane was the sole survivor but was presumed dead.

She survived eleven days in the jungle, alone.

"The thought of why I was the only survivor haunts me.  It always will," said Juliane, recounting the survival that stunned the world.  "I remember my mother wasn't nervous, only concerned just moments before the plane broke apart.  I heard an incredibly loud motor and people screaming, and then it was calm, incredibly calm.  I could only hear the wind in my ears; I was still attached to my seat.  I was free-falling in a tailspin; I saw the forest beneath me.  For me the jungle was never a green hell, but a place that kept me alive."

When I Fell From the Sky is not only the true story of dramatic survival, but also a rare look at a life lived in the wake of beating unfathomable odds.  It is a must read for anyone searching for the meaning of his or her own destiny in an unpredictable and unexplainable world.

Juliane Koepcke has gone on to devote her life to preserving the rain forest that caught her and then saved her.  Her story is one of miraculous and epic survival, as well as a "green"-inspired book that will leave all with a renewed respect and appreciation for the environment and our role in it.

Review:  I found this book after reading a short non-fiction about Juliane Koepcke with my students.  They were fascinated by her story as was I and they wanted me to read her memoir.  I found her story of her early life in the jungle interesting and, or course, her story of the fall and subsequent survival incredible.  But the rest of the book was not as interesting.  I thought the book would be mainly about her experience in the rainforest after the plane crash but I was wrong.  Most of this book was about her life before and after the crash and about her trying to protect her parents' land in Peru, a place called Panguana.  The writing style annoyed me at times when the author used ellipses instead of ending a story especially at the end of chapters.  Also the author liked to give her opinion of things, like the morals of journalists, that had no place in this story.  There were several times where I just had to shake my head at something she said in her story that seemed to not belong.

Rating: 3 stars

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