Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Up from the Blue: A Novel by Susan Henderson

In Up From the Blue, Tillie is all grown up and about to give birth to her first child. With her husband out of town, she enlists the help of her estranged father. This brings back some painful memories of her childhood. Her mother's erratic behaviour and her disappearance after a move to another city have left some deep emotional scars on the young Tillie. Being raised by her father wasn't easy either, especially since she suspected that her father had something to do with her mother's disappearance. She soon finds out that it's a little more complicated that she first imaged.

I quite enjoyed reading this book. The story is beautiful told. I love the way it all unfolded. The book presented a great look at the life of a military family in the 1970s as they move to another city after the father gets a new job. With a strict controlling military man for a father and a mentally ill mother, Tillie was bound to have some problems and harbour some hard feelings. The parts of the story that dealt with mental illness and race relations of the time (because of Tillie's friend) were quite interesting.

For me, the last few chapters of the young Tillie's narration is what brought the story all together. Up until then, I had a little trouble believing that Tillie didn't have any idea what happened to her mother. Even though she was young, she should have known that something was not right. When she did find out what happened, she kept that information to herself and didn't do very much about the situation. I sometimes forget how unreliable children are as narrators. Their life experiences give them a skewed outlook. Perhaps that why parts of the story came across as unbelievable. I would have loved to hear this story from the father's point of view. Even the mentally-ill Mara's(Tillie's mother) take would have been interesting. I don't want to give too much away, so I'll leave it at that.

I liked Tillie as a child, but not that much as an adult. She just seemed so bitter and aggressive towards her father even when she was asking for his help. He had his faults, but he did come to help her when she was in need. That in itself should have earned him so points and softened her harsh view of him. I understand grudges and bad feelings, but if that's how she felt about him, why did she ask for his help?

Despite what I said above, I would still recommend this book to others. There are plenty of great reviews out there with high praises for this book. They shouldn't be too hard to find.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins website.

For more information about the author, please visit Susan Henderson's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

Up From the Blue by Susan Henderson, HarperCollins Publishers, ©2010. ISBN 9780061984037(Uncorrected Proof), 317p.

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