"When Tillie goes into labor while her husband is overseas, she must turn to her estranged father for help. Seeing him brings up painful memories. Her childhood was defined by the conflict between her flighty, moody mother and taciturn, controlling father. Henderson shifts to the past and has young Tillie tell the story of how her father’s military position forces the family to move, after which her mother sinks into a deep depression and withdraws from her family’s life completely. Tillie cannot process why or how her mother has disappeared, so she places the blame on her father. Now, with the birth of her own daughter, adult Tillie must come to terms with how her father chose to protect her. Henderson shows remarkable compassion in her debut novel, an affecting portait of depression through a child’s eyes."
Up from the BlueSusan Henderson
Tillie is an eight-year-old girl who doesn’t stop. She buzzes with an incessant creative energy, dreaming and dancing and always talking, talking, talking: and all for her beautiful mother Mara. But for Mara even the ordinary world is too much; suffocating under an unshakeable misery, all she longs for is life to leave her alone. When Tillie’s father receives a promotion, he sees a new chance to impose order – and by the time Tillie arrives in their new house her mother is nowhere to be seen. Tillie’s imagination feverishly tries to solve the mystery, but the truth is far more distressing than she ever could have thought. An achingly real depiction of a family struggling with mental illness, Up from the Blue is a wrenching debut recalling the works of Lionel Shriver, Mark Haddon, and Emma Donoghue.
“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.”
“Inescapable sadness is threaded through with surprising moments of joy, in an intimate story that dispels the usual notions of victims and oppressors.”
“[An] elegant debut…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.” (Starred review)