Book Review: Up From the Blue by Susan Henderson

Up from the Blue by Susan Henderson

I won this book during last year’s 24hour read-a-thon. It was a giveaway from Harper Publishers. I wasn’t really sure what to think of it. The cover looks a little too “sweet” for me. But in fact, the book was very enjoyable.

Up From the Blue: What it is about

The book starts with Tillie Harris being home alone, her husband on a business trip. She’s 34 weeks pregnant and they’ve just moved houses. The phone isn’t connected yet, she doesn’t know anyone in the neighbourhood, and she thinks she’s having contractions.

When she phones her childhood home (from her neighbour’s house) the only number she remembers by heart, her father comes out to help her. But she doesn’t want anything to do with him really.

We then find out what happened when Tillie was eight and why she resents being near her father. Most of the book reveals the story of what happened to Tillie’s mother and how this affected Tillie even to this day.

Up From the Blue: What I thought

As I am a mother myself, I found the premise: home alone, pregnant and with contractions, quite interesting. Unfortunately, most of the book wasn’t about the current time, but about the past.

That is the story of Tillie at about eight years old with her mother not getting out of bed and the house a mess. Her father needs to do all the housework as well as his own job. But then her mother goes missing. Or does she?

That was enjoyable to read and well-written, but I wanted more of the pregnancy story. If that hadn’t been there, the story of eight-year old Tillie would have been much more appealing to me. As it was, I was looking to see how many pages until we got more about Tillie as she was now.

The book is fluently written and although I didn’t find it hard to put the book away when I had other things to do, I did enjoy picking it up and continue reading.

It reminded me, in terms of story line, a llittle of Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie, although Up From the Blue was better written. If you like a coming of age story, a story about a dysfunctional family, and about mental illness, then you’ll love this book!

Rating: 4/5

I got this book: from the Publishers, Harper, in a giveaway during the 24hour read-a-thon last year

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 320

First published: 2010

Genre: contemporary fiction


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

18 Responses to Book Review: Up From the Blue by Susan Henderson

  1. I’m not sure if this book is for me just at the moment; sounds a bit depressing.

  2. Uniflame says:

    I putting this on my wishlist 🙂 Sounds like one for me 🙂

  3. Trisha says:

    I think I have this on the shelves, but like you, I found the cover if not off-putting, at least indicative of a not-quite-my-style sort of read.

  4. Suzanne says:

    I am sometimes frustrated with books that have a past and a present storyline and one overshadows the other. It sounds like this one had that effect on you?

    • Leeswammes says:

      I think so, Suzanne. I would have liked just the present story line (although that wouldn’t have been so interesting without knowing the past) or just the past storyline. Together didn’t quite work for me.

  5. This book sounds like it might be somewhat disturbing. The premise of the pregnant woman in a home with no phone would be like a constant itch, I think. It’s like wondering if you left the stove on. You can’t really think about anything else. But it sounds intriguing enough that I might check this book out if I come across it.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Lisa, she does get to hospital in the first chapter actually, so she’s in safe hands before the journey into the past starts. But even so, I wanted to know what happened to her: did she really have contractions? What was she going to do about her overpowering father?

      Yes, it is a nice book anyway. This past/present thing probably bothered me more than it would other people.

  6. Dorte H says:

    It is not a mystery, is it? It sounds as if it could have been a brilliant one 😉

    • Leeswammes says:

      Dorte, no, it’s not at all a mystery. More like a coming of age story. Yes, the beginning could have been the start of a really good mystery, too!

  7. parrish says:

    Based on the cover I wouldn’t have got this, now based on your write up, I can’t see me changing my mind, as it doesn’t appeal in the slightest.
    Thanks for a great post.

  8. Cindy says:

    Nope, I need more cheerful stuff at the moment.

  9. Nadine Nys says:

    Sounds like an interesting read, Judith. I always like to read coming-of-age stories. Thanks for the review.

  10. lisa says:

    i have this one on my shelves, too, and for whatever reason haven’t fell drawn to it. i really should just read it (since it sounds like i might actually enjoy it a little) or hand it off to a more appropriate reader…

    thanks for the thoughtful review!

    • Leeswammes says:

      It took me a while to finally read it, Lisa. But I did enjoy it in the end. Some books just don’t appeal and then when you finally read them, they’re much, mcuh better than you thought.

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