Title: Up from the Blue
Author: Susan Henderson
Release Date: September 21, 2010
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
When Tillie goes into premature labor in a brand new city, the only person she can turn to for help is her estranged father. Seeing him brings back painful memories; when Tillie was young, her mother was depressed, and her controlling father didn’t help matters any. After the family moved, Tillie’s mother disappeared, and Tillie was given little explanation for her absence.
Up from the Blue was one of those books I really wanted to like. In fact, I fully expected to enjoy it, after all the positive reviews I’ve read. Everyone seemed to love this book, so I was disappointed to find that it didn’t really speak to me. There are multiple reasons for that, but I do have to say that Susan Henderson did an excellent job writing the voice of young Tillie. It’s difficult to capture the curious, wondrous, and precocious nature of a child, and still make them believable as a young person, yet Henderson did it very well.
Yet my main problem with Up from the Blue was, in fact, the narrator. Why? I don’t generally enjoy books with child narrators. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but I tend to shy away from books that are told from a child’s point of view. When I first picked up Up from the Blue, because of the description on the back of the ARC that focused on a pregnant, adult Tillie, I thought that the child part of the story would be told in a flashback. However, it’s more as if the adult part of the story is a sporadic flash forward; Tillie the child is the main protagonist of this book. Had I known that, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to pick up this book.
With that in mind, I was disappointed with how the novel turned out. I expected the adult portion of the novel to be an exploration of the complicated relationship between Tillie and her father. It was in some ways, but it was so abbreviated that I was left wanting.
I do feel bad writing this review, because it seems as though I am the reason I didn’t enjoy this novel. It is well written and engaging, and if you enjoy child narrators, you’ll likely love this book. I originally was interested in this book because I thought it was told from the point of view of an adult, and that it would focus on an adult Tillie and her relationship with her father. In a lot of ways, my own expectations were the problem. I highly recommend that you read other reviews of this book before making a judgment based on my review, as consensus seems to be it’s an enjoyable and well-written novel, but if you don’t enjoy young narrators like me, you should pass on this book.