Up from the Blue
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Up from the Blue

3.5 31
by Susan Henderson
     
 

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 “Elegant and engrossing….Henderson is a talent to watch.”

—Danielle Trussoni, author of Angelology

 “This is not a book you’ll soon forget.”

—Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

The gripping debut novel from Litpark.com founder and Pushcart Prize-nominee Susan Henderson, Up

Overview

 “Elegant and engrossing….Henderson is a talent to watch.”

—Danielle Trussoni, author of Angelology

 “This is not a book you’ll soon forget.”

—Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

The gripping debut novel from Litpark.com founder and Pushcart Prize-nominee Susan Henderson, Up From the Blue is a dazzling tour de force that unfolds against the backdrop of 1970s America—a tumultuous era of desegregation, school busing, and the early rise of modern-day feminism. The story of an imaginative young girl struggling to make sense of her mother’s mysterious disappearance, Up From the Blue is enthralling fiction that delves into complex family relationships, in the vein of Jennifer McMahon, Katrina Kittle, and Laura Kasischke.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this elegant debut, Tillie Harris, about to give birth to her first child, traces her mother's tragic descent into madness when Tillie was eight years old. A weird, rambunctious girl, Tillie admires her eccentric mother, Mara, but when Mara refuses to get out of bed for several days while their father is away, Tillie and her older brother, Phil, are left to fend for themselves. When their father, a stern, emotionally cold army colonel, returns to find the house in a state of chaos, he begins a daily ritual of dragging his wife from bed and setting her crying on the floor, where she remains for hours. The colonel then accepts a job at the Pentagon and moves the family cross-country. Tillie and Phil arrive at their new home, but their mother is missing, erased without explanation. Henderson's fascinating novel fearlessly examines the complexities of depression, romantic and filial love, and motherhood. Beautiful, funny, sad, and complicated, Tillie's quest to understand her complex, troubled family is filled with lush descriptions of painfully emotional moments. (Oct.)
Columbus Dispatch
“Inescapable sadness is threaded through with surprising moments of joy, in an intimate story that dispels the usual notions of victims and oppressors.”
Booklist
“Henderson shows remarkable compassion in her debut novel, an affecting portrait of depression through a child’s eyes.”
Sara Gruen
“A haunting tale of the terrible ways in which we fail each other; of the whys, the what ifs, and the what nows. This is not a book you’ll soon forget.”
Jamie Ford
“Up from the Blue deftly portrays a family with contradictions we can all relate to—it’s beautiful and maddening, hopeful and condemning, simple, yet like a knot that takes a lifetime to untangle. You will love it completely, even as it hurts you…it’s a heartbreaking, rewarding story that still haunts me.”
Josh Kilmer-Purcell
“A rare literary page-turner full of shocking discoveries and twists. Susan Henderson has created a remarkable narrator—as memorable for her feistiness as for her tenderness. Up From the Blue is going to be one of this year’s major debuts.”
Danielle Trussoni
“Susan Henderson’s debut novel Up From the Blue is elegant and engrossing….Tillie Harris is both tender and tough, charming and filled with wonder by the difficulties she must overcome. Henderson is a talent to watch.”
Jessica Anya Blau
“Up From the Blue is a heart-wrenching, tender story with a mystery that kept my pulse racing. What a joy to discover Tillie Harris, the most memorable, charming and plucky narrator in fiction since Scout Finch.”
Caroline Leavitt
“Haunting and unsettling, Up From the Blue’s real alchemy is the way it uncovers the stories that alternately save us and keep us from our real truths. Incandescently written, this is a stunning debut with heart.”
Julianna Baggott
“Up from the Blue is a beautiful, haunting, spirited debut, charged with secrets and deep longing. Susan Henderson has written a moving love story, a portrait of that deep lasting love between mother and daughter.”
Mark Childress
“A remarkable debut, not just for the uncanny accuracy and charm of eight-year-old Tillie’s narrative voice, but for the way the characters reveal unexpected angles of themselves that somehow make them realer than real. Up from the Blue lingers in the mind.”
Library Journal
This first novel from Henderson (curator, NPR's Dime Stories) opens in 1991 as twentysomething Matilda Harris goes into premature labor in her new Washington, DC, apartment. The only person she can think of to call is her father, with whom she hasn't spoken in three years. The story then turns to eight-year-old Tillie as she and her family relocate to Washington from New Mexico when her father, a weapons system designer, gets a new job at the Pentagon. But Tillie's mother isn't in Washington when she arrives. Tillie's older brother, Phil, isn't much help, and her father just wants her to be a good soldier and avoid the usual chaos that surrounds her. Tillie longs for the bright colors and dancing and joy she associates with her mother. Instead, she basks in the praise from her teacher and feels an affinity for the one black girl in her class, who comes in on the bus. VERDICT Henderson beautifully portrays this family in crisis through its most voluble and consistent member. Rapturous prose reveals young Tillie's heart as she yearns for the mother who will make her world better but who can't seem to mend her own tortured soul. A triumphant debut. [Online reading group guide.]—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061984037
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/21/2010
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
879,405
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

What People are saying about this

Mark Childress
“A remarkable debut, not just for the uncanny accuracy and charm of eight-year-old Tillie’s narrative voice, but for the way the characters reveal unexpected angles of themselves that somehow make them realer than real. Up from the Blue lingers in the mind.”
Jessica Anya Blau
“Up From the Blue is a heart-wrenching, tender story with a mystery that kept my pulse racing. What a joy to discover Tillie Harris, the most memorable, charming and plucky narrator in fiction since Scout Finch.”
Jamie Ford
“Up from the Blue deftly portrays a family with contradictions we can all relate to—it’s beautiful and maddening, hopeful and condemning, simple, yet like a knot that takes a lifetime to untangle. You will love it completely, even as it hurts you…it’s a heartbreaking, rewarding story that still haunts me.”
Danielle Trussoni
“Susan Henderson’s debut novel Up From the Blue is elegant and engrossing….Tillie Harris is both tender and tough, charming and filled with wonder by the difficulties she must overcome. Henderson is a talent to watch.”
Josh Kilmer-Purcell
“A rare literary page-turner full of shocking discoveries and twists. Susan Henderson has created a remarkable narrator—as memorable for her feistiness as for her tenderness. Up From the Blue is going to be one of this year’s major debuts.”
Caroline Leavitt
“Haunting and unsettling, Up From the Blue’s real alchemy is the way it uncovers the stories that alternately save us and keep us from our real truths. Incandescently written, this is a stunning debut with heart.”
Julianna Baggott
“Up from the Blue is a beautiful, haunting, spirited debut, charged with secrets and deep longing. Susan Henderson has written a moving love story, a portrait of that deep lasting love between mother and daughter.”
Sara Gruen
“A haunting tale of the terrible ways in which we fail each other; of the whys, the what ifs, and the what nows. This is not a book you’ll soon forget.”

Meet the Author

Susan Henderson is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the founder of the literary blog LitPark: Where Writers Come to Play (www.litpark.com). Her work has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, the Pittsburgh Quarterly, North Atlantic Review, Opium, and many other publications. Henderson lives in New York, and Up from the Blue is her first novel.

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Up from the Blue 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Bookwyrm55 More than 1 year ago
Too often we fall into the easy habit of reading books that take us to a better place, a world not quite as real, painful, or uncomfortable as the one we walk through in our everyday lives. In Up From the Blue, the author has not provided such an escape. Instead, she has stripped away the veneer we call normalcy and revealed the depths of pain, confusion, frustration and hunger that are so often hidden from view. On the surface, a family, or a person, can seem to be one thing, while being something else entirely. This is a truth Henderson handles with style. Children perceive their own families, and those of others, in ways that they are trained to - set against a backdrop of what they have been told, shown, and trained to believe. The relationships between Tilly, her mother, father, brother and her friends cut deep, but at the same time reveal how tenuous and shallow such things can be. There are happy moments, and trenches of deep, dark sadness in this novel. It will probably not make you feel better, in the traditional sense, but then again - the honesty may awaken things you don't expect. For me, it was memories of a childhood in the 60s when families were fortresses against the world, and also against escape from within... A remarkable novel by a talented author. Will be watching for more. -DNW 
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KPMAE More than 1 year ago
I just finsihed this book a few days ago, and I did not want to put it down, I loved it. I will read it again. I will also pass this along to my friends to enjoy.
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Book-Wise More than 1 year ago
I really got into this book. Very good read. The characters are so believable it reads more like a non-fiction memoir. Could not put this down. Really hits the mark on mental illness and how it affects the whole family. Can't wait for this authors next book.
CyndiANC More than 1 year ago
Accidentally came across this while browsing Nookbooks online. I am so glad I bought it because it was such a great story. I actually shed tears twice while reading this but it isn't a 'downer', really. The story just hit home for me a couple times.
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Ann Hogue More than 1 year ago
really enjoyed this book wasent what i expected couldnt put down.
messerj1 More than 1 year ago
Contrary to some reviews I believe this book hits the mark for many households that had and still have MH illness in their family and how they handle it. There was a time when MH illnesses were undiagnosed and misunderstood. Depression=laziness was one interpretation. I think Tillie and her brother were written from the standpoint that many children lived in with a family where the family was working and the mother faced challenges at home that she could not handle especially with a MH illness. Loved this book and the message at the end that Tillie discoverd about her mother.
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