Tillie’s life was ripped apart when she was eight years old. Her mother, suffering from a depression her family doesn’t understand, suddenly disappears when the family moves across the country. Tillie tries to investigate, suspecting her father of a crime, but the truth turns out to be more complicated than she suspects.
I wasn’t sure, when I got this ARC at the Algonquin event at BEA, that I would like it. It’s not my normal sort of read, but at the same time, I’ve gotten more into modern adult literary fiction recently, so I kept it instead of giving it away. When I sat down to read it, I was captivated immediately. I didn’t particularly like Tillie as a child, but I was really interested in seeing her mother from the point of view of someone who doesn’t understand depression.
In the past, I’ve often read books or watched movies that talk about a mother’s depression consuming her until she’s wasted away. As a young mother who has suffered from depression, I connect with these stories. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book that showed what it looked like from the outside, though, and that’s what really intrigued me. It was so sad. I felt so sorry for Tillie’s mom, especially as the book was set in the 70s when mental illness was often shushed up and people just didn’t understand. I hated Tillie’s dad and the way he treated his wife. I hated that he kept her hidden and away from people pretending everything was all fine, and that he never got treatment for her. I hated her situation and understood Tillie’s anxiety, love, and fear.
I can’t say I liked the second half of the book as much, once Tillie’s mother was gone. Then the focus became more on Tillie and her coping than on the rest. I didn’t find all the things that happened in the second half realistic, either. Some of the plot seemed to unravel a bit. I can’t say much more than that without giving away spoilers but I definitely preferred the first half of the book to the second. At the same time, I don’t think this is a book that is going to leave me any time soon. It certainly gave me a lot to think about.