#MissionBBA Review: Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry (Rating 4.25 Wine Glasses)

Posted September 23, 2011 by Felicia S in Uncategorized / 9 Comments


From Goodreads: On the coast of Alabama, there is a house cloaked in mystery, a place that reveals the truth and changes lives…

Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband – between her reality and the woman she wants to be – she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life.

But everything changes after her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie’s world turns upside down when she sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at her mother’s funeral and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death. He wants answers to questions that Ellie’s not sure she can face, until, in the painful midst of going through her mother’s things, she discovers a hidden diary – and a window onto stories buried long ago.

As Ellie and Hutch start speaking for the first time in years, Ellie’s closed heart slowly begins to open. Fighting their feelings, they set out together to dig into Lillian’s history. Using both the diary and a trip to the Summer House, a mysterious and seductive bayside home, they gamble that they can work together and not fall in love again. But in piecing together a decades-old unrequited-love story, they just might uncover the secrets in their own hearts…

Bought for Myself
Overall Rating 4.25
Character Rating 4.25
Story Rating 4.25

Buy Your Own Copy


NOTE: I admit I picked up this book because I met Patti Callahan Henry at a Book Signing. She was funny, genuine, and personable—all attributes that come across in her writing. It was a great venture outside my normal reading comforts!

What I Loved: This book was written for every daughter that isn’t/wasn’t/can’t be sure they have/are/could live up the perceived expectations of their mothers. Even though this book is set in the south, I think everyone who has been a daughter and/or has a daughter could identify with the story. The most wonderful thing in Coming Up for Air is the connection formed through a few journal entries that Ellie finds in a journal that her mother Lillian kept. Even though there is only one entry a year (every New Years Eve), the story that unfolds is richly told and very emotional. Grab a hanky, you will need it at points. I don’t want to give away any plot points but there are several interactions that tugged at my heart.

What I Liked: So many of the questions that Coming Up for Air asks are built to make you think! I don’t think it was probably done on purpose but the story is a good catalyst for remembering to live your life fully and truly.

Complaints: None

Why I Gave it a 4.25: Contemporary Fiction is not something that general lands on my reading radar. I am glad that this book did because it was fantastically written.

Patti Callahan Henry

Coming Up for Air

Felicia S
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9 responses to “#MissionBBA Review: Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry (Rating 4.25 Wine Glasses)

  1. Aisle B

    I've been reading so many reviews on this very book – it's everywhere. And now you're making me seriously consider it for my shelf.

  2. Missie

    Probably not a story I'd normally pick up, but it does sound very heartfelt and moving. It's not always so easy to remember your many blessings in life. Thanks for the lovely review, hun!

  3. Jenny

    Contemporary fiction is not something that typically lands on my radar either, but since it comes so highly recommended from you I think I need to give it a whirl! Love a good emotional read:)