If you don't ever read another book, let this book be the last. Seriously. I finished reading this book at exactly 1:12 a.m. this morning and I literally can't stop reading it.
This is a book I got through TLC Book Reviews to read and while I was ever so impatiently waiting for it to arrive, I kept hearing such amazing things about this book. I saw video trailers for it, I listened to an online chat about it and the whole time I kept practically attacking my mail lady and demanded that she double check to see if my book came. Anyways.
Tillie Harris's life is in disarray--her 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.
Honestly? That give this book no justice. If you are a parent, a child with a parent suffering from depression, or a parent going through depression yourself, this is a MUST READ. I was immediately gripped during the beginning chapters where Tillie begins labor. Because I've been there, I could instantly connect with her, but anyone who hasn't given birth would feel the frantic feelings described in the beginning.
And then it takes you back to Tillie's childhood. You get to see the inner workings of a troubled military family. Phil, the older son who does no wrong because he wants to be the best soldier he can be. Colonel Harris- a high ranking military official who runs a strict household. Mara, the mother, who is so obviously depressed and on the brink of implosion, incapable of mothering the two children and the subject of whispers amongst the perfect military wives/mothers. And then Tillie- an unruly yet lovable, eight year old girl. Tillie adores her mother, she can see the good in her unlike everyone else and defends her mom. She senses she's likely a disappointment to her father and her brother can't be bothered with her. Yet she feels like her mother is hers alone and you can really relate to her feelings for her mom. Because as children- we've all been there. No matter what a mothers (or fathers) faults are it doesn't matter because you are in love with them. They are perfect to you if to nobody else.
The greatness of this story as that even though it's a novel you feel like it's real. You are hoping that the mother can just pull herself together and be the mom she wanted to be. You are hoping that the father could just see that there is something medically wrong with her and that it isn't her fault, she truly isn't capable of pulling it together on her own. And then you feel this immense sadness for the children who don't understand and you just want to assure them that no matter what- their parents love them.
Now, you know I always try to read a story and bring some of my own life experience to it and this one was no different. For years, since Olivia was born, I have struggled with depression. I have felt so awful that I thought I'd be better off dying, and I thought everyone else would be better without me. I've been so happy that I look at those times and wonder what the hell was I thinking. But most days? I'm not in the middle. I'm sad a lot and sometimes when driving alone I wonder what it would be like to just keep driving and never come back. To just start up new somewhere..anywhere..because I can't bear the feeling that I am a terrible mother, a terrible wife, a terrible friend, a terrible daughter, etc. I may not be any of these things but a lot of days I feel this way. And while I can take all the medication I want I know that's the only thing keeping me from dangling too far down. So I could sympathize with Mara through the whole book. She wants to be everything to everyone, she wants to be a good wife and mother but she just isn't able. But she loves her children anyways. And every attempt she makes to do better it was always for them. So no lie, I cried when reading this and found myself nodding and saying, "Yes-- that's really how it is!" There is a part in the book where Mara tells Tillie, "I'm trying. I'm trying for you, ok?" and that? Just made me so sad because I remember saying this to Olivia when she was just a week old. I was alone at home with her, and she never stopped crying. I would rock, crying myself, and tell her I was trying, just for her.
I highly recommend this book. The end for Mara? Made me so sad and I felt awful for everyone. But the end of the book for Tillie? Gave me hope. Because she was a mom and it made me think that maybe, even though it was all awful, it really had a happy ending.