Synopses & Reviews
When Sebby Lane asks his mother where he came from, she points to the trees high above their heads...
In this startling and brave debut novel, Kiara Brinkman introduces an extraordinary young boy, a boy Cristina Garcia has called "a Little Prince for our times." Nine-year-old Sebby Lane has lost his best friend, his mother, and misses her so acutely that he begins to dream and even relive moments of her life. After an incident at school, Sebby's father leaves Sebby's older brother and sister behind and takes Sebby to live in the family's summerhouse, hoping it will give both of them time and space to recover. But Sebby's father deteriorates in this new isolation, leaving Sebby to reach out to a favorite teacher back home, writing his private thoughts in letters to her. He also becomes acquainted with nearby children who force him out of the void of the past and help him to exist in the present. Sebby's continued struggle to understand his mother both her life and her death lead him to wonder if he, too, is meant to die. When his attempts to reenact her life ultimately fail him, Sebby comes to a new understanding of himself, and only then can he begin to move forward.
In spare and exquisite prose buoyed by the life force of its small, fearless narrator, Up High in the Trees introduces an astonishingly fresh and powerful literary voice.
"The Asperger's afflicted narrator of Brinkman's sincere, sober debut struggles to cope with his pregnant mother's recent death after she was hit by a car. Already keenly sensitive to emotional and sensory stimuli, Sebby Lane finds his mother's loss almost unbearable; he acts out at school, biting a girl on the shoulder. Sebby's father, Stephen, is nearly unable to function, and, in an attempt to help both Sebby and himself, takes Sebby to the family summer home, hoping that a change of scenery will ease their mourning. Once there, however, Stephen slips ever deeper into his misery. Sebby, however, reaches out, writing letters to his teacher and befriending two unpleasant neighbor children. Though the narrative direction is muzzy and the conclusion is saccharine with forced uplift, the cast is portrayed with keen sympathy and sensitivity no easy task with a young, on-the-spectrum narrator. Told in brief poetic vignettes, the novel moves quickly and episodically, like a series of snapshots from the camera of Sebby's unique mind. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Up High in the Trees is a visceral, heart-wrenching, gorgeous book. What moves me most about Brinkman's first novel is the voice: It's pitch-perfect and mesmerizing. With Up High in the Trees Brinkman has created a fully realized, wholly original, and powerfully felt world." Alison Smith
"This is a very moving and perfectly convincing portrait of the inner life of an unusual boy, Sebby, cast into the deep black waters of a mother's death. As his family thrashes and drowns and treads water around him, he has to choose if and how to survive. Brinkman's portrait of Sebby and his family is humane and uncompromising, never maudlin, and, in the end, we root for Sebby as if he were our own." Dave Eggers
"An astonishing debut by a gifted young writer. Up High in the Trees captures, pitch-perfectly, the voice of one autistic nine-year-old boy. That the story is also compelling, beautifully written, humorous, and heartbreaking makes it necessary reading. Sebby Lane is a Little Prince for our times." Cristina Garcia
In spare and gorgeous prose, this heartbreaking debut novel reveals a family in turmoil as told through the startling, deeply affecting voice of a nine-year-old autistic boy.
This is an exquisite debut novel about a family in turmoil, told in the startling, deeply affecting voice of a nine-year-old, autistic boy. Following the sudden death of Sebbys mother, his father takes Sebby to live in the familys summerhouse, hoping it will give them both time and space to recover. But Sebbys father deteriorates in this new isolation, leaving Sebby struggling to understand his mothers death alone, dreaming and even reliving moments of her life. He ultimately reaches out to a favorite teacher back home and to two nearby children who force him out of the void of the past and help him to exist in the present. In spare and gorgeous prose buoyed by the life force of its small, fearless narrator, Up High in the Trees introduces an astonishingly fresh and powerful literary voice.