Up from the Blue
By Susan Henderson
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780061984037, 336pp.)
Publication Date: October 2010
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Tillie Harris's life is in disarrayher husband is away on business, the boxes in her new home aren't unpacked, and the telephone isn't even connected yet. Though she's not due for another month, sudden labor pains force Tillie to reach out to her estranged father for help, a choice that means facing the painful memories she's been running from since she was a little girl.
An extraordinary debut from a talented new voice, Up from the Blue untangles the year in Tillie's life that changed everything: 1975, the year her mother disappeared.
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.
- Up From the Blue features a frame story (a story within a story). How do the chapters about grown Tillie enrich the story of 8-year-old Tillie? How would the novel be different if the author had only written about young Tillie?
“[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.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Inescapable sadness is threaded through with surprising moments of joy, in an intimate story that dispels the usual notions of victims and oppressors.”
“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.”
“Henderson shows remarkable compassion in her debut novel, an affecting portrait of depression through a child’s eyes.”
“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.”
-Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants
“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.”
-Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“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.”
-Josh Kilmer-Purcell, author of I Am Not Myself These Days
“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.”
-Danielle Trussoni, author of Angelology and Falling Through the Earth
“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.”
-Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties
“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.”
-Caroline Leavitt, author of Girls in Trouble and Pictures of You
“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.”
-Julianna Baggott, author of Girl Talk, The Madam, and Which Brings Me to You
“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.”
-Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama