Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: Up from the Blue by Susan Henderson

Up from the Blue by Susan Henderson is the story of Tillie Harris told from two turning points in her life: as an adult when she is about to give birth to her first child and as an eight-year-old child the year when everything changed for her family.

I loved the first half of this book. Tillie is an insightful and imaginative child coping with a difficult home life as best she can, desperately holding on (or inventing) any good moments her family has:
“The parade music jiggled my insides, and lifted the hair up on my arms. I wanted to be the girl with the pom poms tied to her shoes, jabbing a baton at the sky. I danced along behind my father, danced to the womp-womping of the tuba, the wild drumming. I trotted with fancy steps, keeping my eyes on my father’s hand, held out to the side with his fingers spread apart. If I could only catch up, I knew he’d take hold.” (pp. 20-21)
I was completely drawn into this story: it was one of those books that I itched to pick up again as soon as I put it down. Although I didn’t totally identify with Tillie (I was definitely a “good girl” as a child, while Tillie is constantly getting into trouble, both at home and at school), I could certainly identify with her loneliness and sense of alienation.

Unfortunately, midway through the book, my disbelief came crashing down around me: what happened to Tillie’s mother didn’t seem plausible to me, and as Tillie unravelled the events of that year, she no longer seemed believable as an eight-year-old narrator. One could argue that Tillie was only metaphorically eight years old—that at some level the adult Tillie was trapped in that traumatic year when everything changed—which would explain her mature thinking about what happened to her and her mother. Although this does make sense, I still can’t quite buy some of the plot twists. However, despite my disappointment at where the story goes, Henderson has crafted an absorbing debut novel, and I look forward to reading whatever she writes next.

Thank you to Harper Collins for providing me with this book to review.

Up from the Blue was on blog tour with TLC Book Tours in September and October. Visit these other blogs for reviews:

The Zen Leaf
Sara’s Organized ChaosMusings of a Bookish KittyReviews from the HeartRundpinneBooks Like BreathingIn the Next RoomRaging BibliomaniaLife in ReviewPeeking Between the Pageslit*chickBooksie’s Blog

Other reviews:

A Musing ReviewsBibliophilic Book BlogBooking MamaDan’s JournalFizzy ThoughtsHey, I want to read thatKellyVisionlargehearted boyLiterary Kicksmy books. my life.The Best Damn Creative Writing BlogThe Book Pirate

Excerpt from the first chapter of the book: The House with the Blue Door

Two of my favourite quotes: Teaser Tuesday (on my blog)


  1. Sorry to see there's an unbelievable twist in the story. I'm still anxious to read it because I want to know what the twist is now!

  2. I just read a glowing review of this one the other day...makes me wonder how I'll react to this one!

  3. I'm sorry this didn't work out for you in the end but since you are willing to give the author another try, the book must have had some redeeming qualities. :)

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  4. That is pretty much exactly how I felt about the book. Didn't connect to Tillie much but loved the first half and seeing her mother's depression through her eyes, but had believability issues with the second half. I still liked the book, but the second half turned it from something that could have been a favorite to something I liked and will probably never read again.

  5. I want to read the book so bad. I want to get a copy of the book.

  6. I definitely want to give this one a try to see what I think. Your review has piqued my interest.