07 July 2010

Up from the Blue; Susan Henderson

Up from the Blue: A NovelUp from the Blue: A Novel by Susan Henderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For some reason, this story about Tillie (don't call her Mathilda) and the year she moves to DC and loses her mother, entwined with her having a child of her own years later, resonated with me.

Perhaps it was the fact that we none of us know (or understand) our parents when we're young: they're one-dimensional creatures. Father is a military man, issuing orders and trying to keep everything neat, clean and impersonal. Mother is wilder, a poet and dreamer who doesn't respond well to Dad's orderly nature. In between are Phil and Tillie, who react to their parents' war differently, Phil by shutting down and Tillie by giving in to her impulses. When they move, and Mother disappears, Tillie is bereft until one day she discovers that Father is keeping Mother locked in the basement.

Of course, that's only one side of the story and as the story continues you see that there's more going on than Tillie could possibly imagine. By the time she's grown up, she has become estranged from her father but reaches out to him in a time of crisis. It's then that she starts to realize that he's perhaps different than she'd assumed. The book ends with him leaving for his home, but there's a glimmer of hope that they'll grow into an adult relationship, breaking free of the one the formed when she was eight.

ARC provided by publisher.

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