I found Up From the Blue an incredibly gripping, emotional ride. I wonder whether those that don’t have some experience with depression or other mental illness in their lives will feel the same impact.
This book was all about the characters, who became very real to me.
Tillie’s mom lives in her own world. Her children fit into that world– sometimes. Tillie’s dad is a military man. He has no patience for his wife, and only slightly more for his children, as he believes that life should always be orderly.
Tillie’s brother takes after his dad, but has just enough of his mother in him to make it difficult to live up to his father’s exacting standards. Tillie takes after her mother, but unlike her mother, she still wants– needs– to be part of the outside world as well.
Tillie’s mother seems to be losing her grasp on even her own world, the one she alone inhabits. And then the family moves, and Tillie’s mother is nowhere to be found. And no one is supposed to talk about it.
My heart hurt for young Tillie as she struggled with a very difficult family dynamic, and with difficulties with her peers. I also had a lot of sympathy for her mother, although I think many readers may not, particularly as the book progresses. Tillie’s father and brother were also interesting characters, even if they weren’t as compelling as the women the book focused on.
I was very impressed when the book went down several paths I didn’t foresee (I’m not going to talk about them so as not to spoil them for potential readers).
My perceptions of the characters changed significantly over the course of the book, but the characters stayed true to themselves. Tillie and her brother changed as they grew up. They were certainly influenced by their parents, and by the world outside, but they also had to be the people they were.
My changes in my views of the parents came more from learning more about them than from changes in the characters. As time passes, we learn more and more about each of them, and the challenges each is dealing with.
This story was amazingly well told, I’m glad I read it. I think it could make a good choice for reading group discussion, as I think different people will have different perceptions of the characters, and there will be a lot to talk about here.
I received Up From the Blue from Harper Collins so I could review it. Thank you for this opportunity!