- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (September 21, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061984035
- ISBN-13: 978-0061984037
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 111 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #673,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Up from the Blue: A Novel Paperback – September 21, 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.
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Tillie is about to have her first baby, but her husband is away on business, and they have just moved back to Washington where she grew up. Scared and alone, she does the only thing she can think of, which is to call her father whom she hasn’t spoken to or seen in years. When he arrives at the hospital, the painful and difficult memories of her childhood rush back, and the “year that changed everything.” The story then alternates between present day at the hospital, where she is delivering 6 weeks early, and her childhood, which was disrupted by a severely depressed and manic mother, an angry father, and an aloof brother, all caused by the stresses and sadness that resonates with her mother. Tillie clings to hope, and tries to understand what’s wrong, all the while acting out and behaving poorly as a result of the problems inflicted by her mother at home.
This story is one of family, love, hope and loss. It’s a story of mental illness destroying a family. It’s a story of a daughter, so painfully devoted to a mother that is entirely too far away. It’s a story of a dysfunctional family and a father trying to hold things together. It’s so many things, and stirs up so many emotions. My heart broke for this family.
I loved Tillie and felt so much pain and sadness for her while she struggled to find out what was going on with her family, in particular, her mother. She was hopeful, hopeless, sad, funny, but always full of life. I think the best way to sum up Tillie is to tell you that, in the middle of her school play, she bursts out of the side of the stage and runs up and down the aisle in her yellow brick costume, and laughs all the while, despite the fact that she “destroyed” her school play (really, I think she made the school play). Her antics are, in large part, due to the dysfunctional home life she has.
All of the characters are incredibly three-dimensional and real. Their personalities, heartbreaks and emotions are completely evident and palpable, and they are drawn out so well. I genuinely felt as though these were real people. They are some of the most memorable and realistic characters I have ever encountered, Tillie in particular. She is easily one of my favorite characters of all time.
I could go on and on about this book, but know that there are many twists and turns, ups and downs, and that you will be utterly surprised by some of the things that happen. It is, by far, one of my favorite books of 2010. It brought out so many emotions and I felt deeply connected to, and invested in, Tillie’s life. I cannot recommend this one enough!
The military family tries to protect its own; to the extent that after the last move, the children thought their mother was in a hospital or had just left them. Eventually, Tillie discovers the truth. Along with that, her father finally comes forth with realities he had tried to shield the children from. The ending leaves the future open ended, and one has to hope that now that Tillie knows the truth and has a baby, that the estrangement with her Father will end.
Tillie grew up in a military family, the father hid behind a strict military mindset with no frills, no nonsense. Sit up straight, yes sir, no sir. The mother was eccentric, literary, narcissistic, and mentally ill. Phil the young boy of twelve tried to hold it together by following the rules, by sitting up straight, by obeying every word out of dad's mouth. Tillie could not bend to rules and desperately needed to know her mother loved her. The characters are well drawn and seem to live in the pages of the book. I really, really liked it. Eunice Boeve, author of Ride a Shadowed Trail