I didn't know much about Up High in the Trees when I ordered it from Amazon, nor when I began reading it. I chose the book because I had read posts by Kiara Brinkman on The Nervous Breakdown a while back and remembered liking them. When I heard she had a book out I ordered it purely based on that. So I was delighted to find that I actually liked the book.
Up High in the Trees isn't a typical novel. It's told in vignettes from the viewpoint of 8-year-old Sebastian Lane, whose mother has just died. Because I hadn't read the cover of the book, I first thought Sebby was autistic. He takes note of a lot of colors and intricate details of spaces. He also likes to sit under tables, in closets or curl up in small, dark places. It isn't until a few chapters in that we learn this is a coping reaction to his mother's death (this isn't a spoiler! The cover talks about his mother's death). Sebby learns to cope in other ways and even begins making new friends as the book moves forward. At the same time his dad has some type of breakdown and Sebby and his older brother and sister have to fend for themselves for awhile.
This book was particularly interesting to me because it takes place in the fall and covers an election year (1992, when Bill Clinton was first elected). I read the Halloween scene on Halloween and the election part near the election so it made it seem that much more real. Anyway, I don't feel like I've really done a great job of explaining this book. I enjoyed this novel because it was so different than other books I've read this year, mostly because the voice throughout is that of an 8-year-old, which makes it pretty unique. I enjoyed being in the mind of an 8-year-old for a couple of days. I think Brinkman did a great job of conveying how confused a child can be about something as tragic as a death, especially when everyone tries to help the child by keeping things from him/her. This book shows how a child might use their imagination to make up a different reality when the facts are lacking in his life.
If you're interested in reading this book, I'll be giving away my copy. It was already used when I bought it so it has a little wear, but it's still FREE. And who doesn't love free, right? So leave a comment below and I'll pick a winner Dec. 1. Also, don't forget to enter my M.J. Rose giveaway.