Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Launch day! Susan Henderson's Up From the Blue

Susan Henderson's debut novel is on sale as of today, and I hope you'll buy it and support a truly generous author who also happens to write beautifully (as noted by the MANY glowing reviews below).  It's what I'll be reading as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Set in 1975 against the backdrop of school busing, desegregation, and early feminism, Up from the Blue follows the story of an imaginative young girl, Tillie Harris, as she struggles to make sense of her mother’s mysterious disappearance and her rapidly deteriorating home life.

Praise for Up from the Blue:

[An] elegant debut… Henderson’s fascinating novel fearlessly examines the complexities of depression, romantic and filial love, and motherhood. Beautiful, funny, sad, and complicated…. —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Rapturous prose…. A triumphant debut. —Library Journal
Henderson shows remarkable compassion in her debut novel… —BookList

Susan Henderson’s UP FROM THE BLUE deftly portrays a family with contradictions we can all relate to—it’s beautiful and maddening, hopeful and condemning, simple, yet like a knot that takes a lifetime to untangle. This is a book that you will love completely, even as it hurts you. It is a heartbreaking, rewarding story that still haunts me. I absolutely loved this book…gushingly, unequivocally, loved it. —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET [Read what Jamie had to say about UP FROM THE BLUE on his blog.]

Susan Henderson masterfully weaves a story where family can both indelibly wound, and yet also redeem. Heartbreaking, compelling—ultimately beautiful. —Samantha Dunn, author of FAITH IN CARLOS GOMEZ

Brilliant! UP FROM THE BLUE felt like a gorgeous gift to my heart. Susan Henderson has a genius for exposing the exquisite flaws and beautiful frailties of her characters with such tenderness the reader can’t help but be uplifted. Yes, it’s that sublime. I fell in love with Tillie, I fell in love with this book. You will, too. —Ellen Meister, author of THE OTHER LIFE and THE SMART ONE

In UP FROM THE BLUE Susan Henderson delivers a compelling, deeply felt tale about the complexities of family life. You’ll fall in love with young Tillie Harris, whose attempts to navigate her parents’ unruly world are portrayed with genuine warmth and tenderness. —Michelle Richmond, New York Times bestselling author of THE YEAR OF FOG

A haunting tale of the terrible ways in which we fail each other; of the whys, the what ifs, and the what nows. This is not a book you’ll soon forget. —Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS

Through her gorgeous, perceptive debut, Susan Henderson reveals the truth–a family’s effort to hide its secrets and shame will break a child’s heart. UP FROM THE BLUE is an unflinching, emotionally honest novel, one of the most insightful stories I’ve ever read. —Ronlyn Domingue, author of THE MERCY OF THIN AIR

A remarkable debut, not just for the uncanny accuracy and charm of eight-year-old Tillie’s narrative voice, but for the way the characters reveal unexpected angles of themselves that make them somehow realer than real. UP FROM THE BLUE lingers in the mind. Susan Henderson shows herself to be a writer of great skill and subtlety. —Mark Childress, author of CRAZY IN ALABAMA and ONE MISSISSIPPI

UP FROM THE BLUE is a beautiful, haunting, spirited debut, charged with secrets and deep longing. Susan Henderson has written a moving love story, a portrait of that deep lasting love between mother and daughter. —Julianna Baggott, author of THE MADAM and WHICH BRINGS ME TO YOU

UP FROM THE BLUE is a heart-wrenching, tender story with a mystery that kept my pulse racing. What a joy to discover Tillie Harris, the most memorable, charming and plucky narrator in fiction since Scout Finch. —Jessica Anya Blau, author of Today Show pick, THE SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES 

Haunting and unsettling, UP FROM THE BLUE’s real alchemy is the way it uncovers the stories that alternately save us and keep us from our real truths. Incandescently written, this is a stunning debut with heart. —Caroline Leavitt, author of GIRLS IN TROUBLE and PICTURES OF YOU

UP FROM THE BLUE is elegant and engrossing. Like a modern-day Scout, Henderson’s child narrator Tillie Harris is both tender and tough, charming and filled with wonder by the difficulties she must overcome. Henderson is a talent to watch. —Danielle Trussoni, author of ANGELOLOGY and FALLING THROUGH THE EARTH

In this extraordinary first novel, a young girl forced to live within the regimented world of her military father discovers the darkness behind his austere existence. Her secret, nighttime life, spent inside a basement chamber straight out of Jung, conjures the no-man’s-land between madness and sanity. With its authentic and startling imagery, Henderson’s story glimpses the darkness of the heart as well as the rays of light that manage to shine through. —Kim Ponders, author of THE ART OF UNCONTROLLED FLIGHT and THE LAST BLUE MILE

A luminous debut. Henderson explores the emotional tremors of a troubled military family in a story layered with shock, revelation–and hope. —Dylan Landis, author of NORMAL PEOPLE DON’T LIVE LIKE THIS

Susan Henderson makes real the magic and terror of childhood with such vivid uncanny accuracy that I can almost imagine being a child again. She takes readers back into the world of children like no other writer today—without cloying sentimentality, and without the wild hysteria of memoir. Funny, smart, innocent, and wicked, her narrator is one of the most memorable voices to show up in fiction in ages. —Jim Daniels, Pushcart and Brittingham Prize winner, and author of NO PETS, DETROIT TALES, PLACES/EVERYONE, PUNCHING OUT M-80, BLESSING THIS HOUSE, BLUE JESUS, NIGHT WITH DRIVE-BY SHOOTING STARS, LETTERS TO AMERICA: CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POETRY ON RACE

UP FROM THE BLUE is a bejeweled tale of mother and daughter, longing and understanding, all ripe with the antics of a brilliantly imagined girl named Tillie. Dark and sweet like a wild cherry Lifesaver, Henderson’s prose makes our hearts pucker, while enchanting our minds long after the story is done. —Amy Wallen, Los Angeles Times bestselling author of MOONPIES AND MOVIE STARS
Tillie Harris, Susan Henderson’s courageous young heroine, is vibrant and true. Her voice fills the pages of UP FROM THE BLUE with a bittersweet song of innocence and longing as she navigates her way through her perilous life—a life dominated by her mother’s desperate unhappiness and her father’s frustrations. I wanted to hold Tillie tight then release her with a smile, so I could watch her set the world on fire with her hard-won wisdom and sparkling energy. —Laura Benedict, author of ISABELLA MOON and CALLING MR. LONELY HEARTS

UP FROM THE BLUE is a rare literary page-turner full of shocking discoveries and twists. Susan Henderson has created a remarkable narrator – as memorable for her feistiness as for her tenderness. UP FROM THE BLUE is going to be one of this year’s major debuts. —Josh Kilmer-Purcell, NY Times bestselling author of I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS and THE BUCOLIC PLAGUE
Here, finally, is a contemporary writer willing to embrace the pathos, the ache, the hunger of human life in fiction that’s luminous and moving and transformative. In the character of Tillie, Susan Henderson pursues the shadows of childhood without allowing herself to be obliterated by the potential, there, for darkness; her fictional creations are beautifully flawed and hence gorgeously human. For me, Susan Henderson is one of the most important writers to come along since Carson McCullers. Like McCullers, she turns her eye upon the sadness, the poignancy, and the grotesqueries of our world, evokes them with a keen and unswerving vision that is tempered only by understanding and love. A remarkable writer…and a brilliant one. —Terri Brown-Davidson, assistant editor at Zoetrope: All-Story and author of MARIE, MARIE, HOLD ON TIGHT

Using perfect prose as a weapon, Sue Henderson’s UP FROM THE BLUE burrows into you, so that if you put the book down, you will soon feel compelled to pick it back up, and when you have read the final word, you realize that you will carry this story with you for the foreseeable future. —John Warner, editor of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

I would love to be able to talk about Susan Henderson’s book, UP FROM THE BLUE, without using the word “awesome.” But the truth is, I can’t do it. I’m in awe of the big-hearted love of a daughter for her mother. I’m in awe of the all-too-human Tillie with her brilliant imperfections, with her truth-telling, with her outrageous simplicity. I’m in awe of the breadth and scope of this book. I’m in awe of how Susan Henderson makes it seem as if there’s nothing small in the world. I know you’ll agree. UP FROM THE BLUE is no less than awesome. —Terry Bain, O. Henry award-winner and author of YOU ARE A DOG: LIFE THROUGH THE EYES OF MAN’S BEST FRIEND

Susan Henderson deftly conjures that surreal kingdom known as childhood, a realm teeming with tactile mysteries, hourly epiphanies and ineffable longing. Tillie is as brave and winning a narrator as we could wish for, caught in a painful intimacy with her disturbed mother, but also embarking on the necessary adventure of defiance. UP FROM THE BLUE is a wonderful book, always evocative and often funny, fashioned with a delicate touch and a riddler’s humor. —M. Allen Cunningham, author of THE GREEN AGE OF ASHER WITHEROW

Susan Henderson writes with the sort of honesty, clarity, and attention to detail that makes you forget for a moment that you are reading fiction or even reading at all. It is a sign of the greatest level of art: to erase the artifice that separates the reader from the experience. The stories in this book do this with admirable skill, creating a world of vivid sadness and beauty. —Grant Bailie, author of CLOUD 8
In luminous, economical prose, Susan Henderson tells the story of Tillie, a lonely child in a family of loners, doing her best to please her high-ranking Pentagon scientist father, her literary, unstable mother and her scornful older brother, all of whom have secrets she wants only to understand. She grows before our eyes in deft, layered chapters that are at once painful and funny. Neglected and demanded too much of, eager to please and rebellious in equal measure, Tillie embodies the very spirit of late twentieth-century America, and we can’t help but love her. Indeed, Henderson’s greatest gift to the reader—and there are many— is the evidence that love, though it surely does not conquer all, makes forgiveness possible and hope inevitable. —Maryanne Stahl, author of FORGIVE THE MOON and THE OPPOSITE SHORE


Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds like a great book, I will definitely be ordering it soon. Thanks for the information, I'm always on the lookout for an interesting read.

Peggy Payne said...

Golly, that's quite a promo, Billie. I want to be on your good list when I ever have a book come out again.

billie said...

Arlene, I think you'll enjoy this one.

billie said...

Peggy, if you've never been over to LitPark, Susan's blog, take a look. She's been hosting writers there for years, celebrating their successes, asking wonderful questions of all of us who play along, and she reads and responds to all the answers.

I think if you read her work there, her stories that have been published, and the heartfelt essays she's written about writing process and lifestyle, you'll know why so many people are so excited about this debut.

She's a truly special person. (who writes beautifully)

And of course you are and will always be on my "good list." :)

Peggy Payne said...

Thanks, Billie. I'll check out the book and the blog.

jessica Keener said...

Lovely, Billie. I've come to expect that from you!

billie said...

Jessica, what a nice thing to say! I'm glad you're here.

ponymaid said...

Billie, it certainly sounds like a good read by a good writer. Who is her assistant in the photo? My guess would be it's her muse...

billie said...

Sheaffer, she wrote this morning that today was a regular day for her - she was taking her muse to get his shots. :) I know he is a very beloved member of her family.

Jane said...

Oh boy, I can't wait! I'll be buying and reading! :)

billie said...

Jane, it's a powerful read. I finished it last night. Wow.

forever in blue jeans, Beth said...

and yet another to put on my book shopping list :) I am so guilty of buying more books than I can possibly read in a lifetime - so guilty - happily guilty :)

billie said...

I don't think there's any reason to feel guilty - you are, after all, supporting the authors by buying even if you never get to reading the book!

forever in blue jeans, Beth said...

that might be for the truly disciplined individual; but "robbing Peter, to pay Paul" when it comes to books and the budget - well, guilt can factor in !! LOL !!

"When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes." ~ Desiderius Erasmuc (1466-1536)

Clearly a kindred spirit !!

billie said...

I have felt my share of guilt over things, but I don't recall ever feeling it about buying books - even if I bought them using money that needed to pay for something else!

I feel guilty about things like going to Trader Joe's instead of buying from the local vineyard. (which I do support but just not all the time)