Up from the Blue
Booklist Reviews 2010 September #1
"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." Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2010 August #1
This first novel from Henderson (curator, NPR's Dime Stories) opens in 1991 as twentysomething Matilda Harris goes into premature labor in her new Washington, DC, apartment. The only person she can think of to call is her father, with whom she hasn't spoken in three years. The story then turns to eight-year-old Tillie as she and her family relocate to Washington from New Mexico when her father, a weapons system designer, gets a new job at the Pentagon. But Tillie's mother isn't in Washington when she arrives. Tillie's older brother, Phil, isn't much help, and her father just wants her to be a good soldier and avoid the usual chaos that surrounds her. Tillie longs for the bright colors and dancing and joy she associates with her mother. Instead, she basks in the praise from her teacher and feels an affinity for the one black girl in her class, who comes in on the bus. VERDICT 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. [Online reading group guide.]—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal[Page 69]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
PW Reviews 2010 August #4
In this elegant debut, Tillie Harris, about to give birth to her first child, traces her mother's tragic descent into madness when Tillie was eight years old. A weird, rambunctious girl, Tillie admires her eccentric mother, Mara, but when Mara refuses to get out of bed for several days while their father is away, Tillie and her older brother, Phil, are left to fend for themselves. When their father, a stern, emotionally cold army colonel, returns to find the house in a state of chaos, he begins a daily ritual of dragging his wife from bed and setting her crying on the floor, where she remains for hours. The colonel then accepts a job at the Pentagon and moves the family cross-country. Tillie and Phil arrive at their new home, but their mother is missing, erased without explanation. 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. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.