Friday, January 7, 2011

Karen Dionne

Karen Dionne's novels are Boiling Point and Freezing Point.

Recently I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
This book might seem like an odd choice for a thriller author, but I recently read and loved the debut novel written by a friend of mine: Susan Henderson’s Up From the Blue (HarperCollins, 2010). Susan’s book has been selected as a Great Group Reads pick by the Women’s National Book Association, an outstanding softcover release by NPR, a Best Bets Pick by BookReporter, Editor’s Pick by BookMovement, Editor's Choice by BookBrowse) Top 10 of 2010 by Robert Gray of Shelf Awareness, and Best of 2010 by TNB. After I read the book, I understood why.

Up From the Blue is the story of a mother’s madness as seen through the eyes of her young daughter. The charm of the story comes from the fact that Tillie doesn’t see anything wrong in her mother’s erratic and even dangerous behavior – in Tillie’s eyes, her mother is someone to admire; a free spirit who says and does as she wishes without regard for convention. Never mind that there are days when her mother can’t get out of bed, or that on occasion, Tillie and her brother are forced to assume the role of their mother’s protector. Tillie loves her mother, and basks in the love that her mother has for her – even if there are times when her mother is unable to show it.

Not surprisingly, Tillie’s behavior, too, is outside the norm. She’s an unrepentant biter who enjoys the feeling of sinking her teeth into someone else’s skin, and her unrestrained behavior and unconventional dress inevitably mark her as the odd child to be avoided. The reader wonders (as does a later, grown-up Tillie), if the seeds of her mother’s madness are inherent in her.

The writing is superb, and the story one that sticks with you long after you’re done – even for a reader who generally prefers thrillers.
Visit Karen Dionne's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue