Nebraska Center for Writers

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About Kiara Brinkman


Up High in the Trees
Copyright © 2007
by Kiara Brinkman
Grove Press
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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 Sebby's mother, his father takes Sebby to live in the family's summerhouse, hoping it will give them both time and space to recover. But Sebby's father deteriorates in this new isolation, leaving Sebby struggling to understand his mother's death alone, dreaming and even re-living 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. — from the publisher

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

Up High in the Trees is a hauntingly beautiful debut, a stunner. Kiara Brinkman has masterfully created an enchanting, poignant, and wholly original child narrator out of taut, spooky, electric sentences and elegant, musical concisions. The most remarkable thing is that you don't, at first, notice the razor-sharp precision of Brinkman's technique; the book is so vibrant, so alive, it's as if she's channeling this nine-year-old boy and his visceral, riveting, often terrifying, depiction of the otherworld that is childhood. — Maud Casey

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

[A] sincere, sober debut. ... Portrayed with keen sympathy and sensitivity. ... Told in brief poetic vignettes, the novel moves quickly and episodically, like a series of snapshots from the camera of Sebby's unique mind. — Publishers Weekly

What does come strong and clear ... is the author's impressive ability to connect with and portray the myopic grief of a bereft child. ... A promising debut. — Kirkus Review

Up High in the Trees by Kiara Brinkman is a moving portrait of upheaval. Told through the narrative voice of an 8 year old boy, the novel explores the immediate impact of loss on a family in New England. Sebby s narration moves between succinct descriptions of the world around him and poetic internal monologues about the loss of his mother. After refusing to go to school, his father takes Sebby to their family cabin to regroup. However, it is this isolation that pushes his father further into his breakdown. Sebby narrates everything with such a simple voice, that it adds so much more horror to the events he witnesses. Brinkman has created a stunning novel about overcoming loss, the ties of family and neighbors and how the memories in our heads can become the only photographs we have left to treasure. — Becca Krik, Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse, Washington, D.C.

The characters in Up High in the Trees linger with the reader long after the book is finished, almost like friends you haven't seen for awhile and you hope are doing fine. Told in the first person by young autistic Sebby, this is a story of a family that falls apart and comes back together again in unexpected and poignant ways. — Linda Ramsdall, The Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT

Through the spare narration of 8-year old Sebby Lane, Kiara Brinkman manages to tell a rich, nuanced story that deeply delves into the adult themes of grief, family ties and friendship. It's hard not to love Sebby and his wise innocence from the very first page as he tries to cope with his mother's death. — Arsen Kashkashian, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO

No one could blame you for turning away from Kiara Brinkman's haunting first novel. The muffled pain of Up High in the Trees will trigger your reflex for emotional protection but, if you can bear it, the treasures here are exquisite. I can't remember when I ever felt so torn between recoiling from a story and wishing I could somehow cross into its pages and comfort a character. — Washington Post Book World

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