* Longlisted, 2010 Golden Tripod Award
After the death of her mother, a young girl takes up the maintenance of her household and does her best to help “the person upstairs”, her grieving father, break free of the chains of bereavement. A story of persistence, optimism, and loving memory told through diary entries, letters, and notes.
After the death of her mother, a young girl takes up the maintenance of her household, making meals, cleaning the house, and weeding the garden, her two dogs and two chickens by her side. Mom explicitly told her she would have to take care of “the one upstairs” for a while: a man with wild hair and beard who stares all day at an empty canvas and barely speaks or eats. Though lonely, sad, and tired, the girl rolls up her sleeves and gets to work. Life goes on with the help of her puppies and her neighbors, and one day, “the one upstairs” – her grieving father – comes downstairs for dinner with a shaven face and clean clothes on.
Arlene Hsing’s story replicates memory through fragments: the little girl records every day in her diary and leaves herself notes about work, life, and her lost mother, and those notes come together to form the story. This is a tale of persistence, optimism, and love, which is brought to life through endearing illustrations that appear to rise from a common yellow legal pad.