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Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found Paperback


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Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found + Still Waters + Found: A Memoir
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; First Edition edition (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671042564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671042561
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jennifer Lauck conveys the perceptions, thoughts, and emotions of a frightened child with utter conviction and vivid immediacy in her remarkable memoir of the six years during which both of her parents died. Lauck opens in 1969, when she is 5 and her 31-year-old mother is entering the final phase of a decade of severe health problems. Momma is beautiful and loving; we feel the tender intimacy between mother and daughter, even as we see that Jennifer has assumed a lot of adult responsibilities that make her fearful and obsessed with rules. Eight-year-old brother Bryan responds to Momma's illnesses with anger, and is often cruel to his sister. High-powered, workaholic Daddy does his best, but is not around a lot. (The adult author subtly depicts the kids' half-conscious understanding that Daddy is seeing other women.) As Momma's health worsens and the family moves to Southern California to be near a better hospital, Lauck captures in painful detail the atmosphere of physical decay that surrounds a mortally ill woman. Momma dies on Bryan's 10th birthday. In short order, Daddy has moved them all in with Deb, who obviously has been his girlfriend for a while, and events spiral down from there. Daddy dies of a heart attack before Jennifer turns 10; Deb keeps the stepchildren (whom she dislikes) so that she can get their social security allotment; Jennifer is sent out to work at a residence that is run by Deb's creepy Freedom Community Church. She is 11 by the time that her aunt and uncle rescue her--a moment that is nearly as exultant for readers as it is for the girl whose trials they have shared for nearly 400 pages. Her harrowing story might sound unrelievedly grim in the retelling, but Lauck's lack of self-pity and the delicacy of her prose transform it into an odyssey of endurance and transcendence. --Wendy Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Writing from the viewpoint of the child, rather than as an adult looking back with a mature perspective, Lauck's memoir recounts a childhood troubled by an unending string of upheavals and heartbreaks. Lauck's loving mother was chronically ill and absent for long periods of hospitalization. When she was home, she was frequently bedridden, and young Lauck, her brother and her father took turns attending to her catheter. After her mother's death, the father uprooted the family and, in an attempt to give his children a stable family, quickly remarried to an emotionally abusive woman with kids of her own. More losses followed, including the death of her father. Lauck's poignant narration matches the tone of the text: her youthful voice sounds innocent, bewildered and wounded as she tries to understand the devastations going on outside her control. At the same time, there's a core of defiance in her voice, a refusal to be beaten down by life's adversity. It's impossible not to be moved by the young girl's plight; it's equally impossible not to admire the adult's strength and courage in surviving it. Based on the Pocket hardcover (Forecasts, Sept. 25). (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

This is me, Jennifer Lauck, and I have been a writer since I was seventeen years old. My Honor English teacher, at Mead Sr. High in Spokane, Washington discovered my gift. Karla Nuxoll told me to become a writer, "you are that good," she said.

I paid attention to Karla, enrolled in journalism classes in college and went on to become an investigative journalist in Montana, Washington and Oregon.

Finally, I stopped working in news in the 90's and began the investigation of a lifetime-one that took me into the very interior of my soul.

The results of that trek were the books Blackbird, Still Waters and Show Me the Way. My final memoir, Found, is now available here on Amazon!

Found: A Memoir with the remarkable and generous Seal Press, wraps up a fifteen year quest to knowing myself, which ends when I find the woman who gave me life but was forced to put me up for adoption. In finding my mother, I found what had been missing from my life--an identity! I am now writing a novel on dreams and producing essays on mothering, life, spirituality and wholeness.

I live in Oregon and am blessed with two children, Josephine and Spencer.

Customer Reviews

This is such a beautifully written story.
emt0402
So amazing just how strong the will to survive is.
Connie VanDerhoof
Writing Style: This is an easy, quick read.
Tammy Vickroy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 93 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I was up until 4 a.m. finishing Jennifer Lauck's gripping story of her childhood. The pages seemed to turn themselves as I followed the early loss of her tenderhearted mother, her panicky father's remarriage, and her experiences at the hands of a neurotic stepmother. What makes this debut all the more impressive is Lauck's clear and compelling prose style. Early in the book, the childlike tone seems potentially grating, but the reader is quickly drawn under Lauck's spell as that voice rapidly hardens and matures in the face of a tough life. More important, there's an astonishing lack of self-pity that makes the story all the more chilling. This is not one of those horrifying stories of child abuse and molestation that, no matter how shocking, we like to think of as happening on the fringes of society. Instead, this is a straightforward recounting of life's circumstantial horrors, namely what happens to children when the people who are supposed to take care of them die and there's no one to take the adults' places. It seems too easy (and unfair) to compare her to Mary Karr, but Lauck displays the same surefootedness and narrative tautness that kept readers of "The Liars Club" enthralled. The only happy ending is her smiling author photo, and I don't know if I could have gone to sleep as dawn approached except that her acknowledgements thanked a husband and son for an unconditional love that she thought she'd never feel again.I'm thankful for Jennifer Lauck's happy adult life (and I feel the need after this glowing review to say that I don't know the woman at all), and I'm thankful as well for the talents that allowed her to turn an incredibly painful childhood into a gripping piece of literature.
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Charlene Vasseur on December 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
After seeing Jennifer Lauck on Oprah I began my search for this book. Once in hand, I read it in a period of 14 hours almost right through since I was unable to put it down, and unable to stop my tears. How desperately I wanted to take this poor child in my arms and hold her forever. It brought great comfort to remember her on Oprah...that she has survived, but even so I had to keep flipping to the back cover to see her smiling face to assure myself that her suffering is over now. I became so angry at society - I am sure there were many opportunities for adults to notice this child and her situation, but no one helped. This book reminded me of my own childhood pain, and helps me to perfect some of my parenting skills, and I truly hope that this book will serve the ultimate purpose and awaken us to the plight of children. Jennifer's story is heartbreaking, but she is not alone in a world that still largely minimizes children. Thank you dear sweet Jennifer for telling your story, and I truly hope that your words reverberate throughout the world as they allow insight into lonliness, grief, rejection and abandonment as seen through the eyes of a child. I tremendously look forward to the sequel.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Laura Duet on October 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book 10 minutes ago...I read it very quickly because I had to find out what happened to Jennifer. This is a very well-written book. It is very harrowing and made me very mad that no adults came through to help Jennifer and her brother. I can only wonder how Jennifer made it through to where she is now. If I could do anything this minute it would be to call the author on the phone and find out what happened to her in the ensuing years. On the back fly leaf of the book it says that she is at work on a sequel, I will be anxiously awaiting her next book. I am awestruck by her ability to thrive under the circumstances she grew up in. This book will stay with me forever for many reasons. It is truely amazing. Read it.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What a beautiful story--it's so incredibly well written. Makes you want to find the author and give her a huge hug! We've all had difficult lives, and Jennifer reminds us all to look back and remember. I lost my mother, too, and I found myself trying to reconstruct my feelings. It's just tremendously powerful. Congratulations to a new voice on the memoir scene--can't wait to read the next from Jennifer.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I saw Jennifer Lauck on "Oprah" on Friday, and was so moved by her story and resilience that I bought the book on Saturday, and read the whole thing.
It is an amazing story of hardship and survival, of added insults to injuries, and she not only lives to the tell the tale, but seems to have made peace with her difficult past.
I had a difficult childhood myself, and her story rings absolutely true: she captures the loneliness and confusion perfectly. I can't wait to share the book with a friend.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Beatty on October 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Blackbird proves that no matter how much pain a child or young adult endures, if they're strong enough it is possible to grow up to lead a well balanced and productive life. All too often, with the help of psychologists and therapists, adults blame their lack of success in life on their parents. We are all so busy spending so much time blaming others, we fail to reach our potential.
Jennifer Lauck, the author of Blackbird, suffered greatly and uses her childhood experiences to tell a spellbinding and heart-rending story of the loss of innocence and survival. It is amazing that a 6 year old child could not only survive the pain that was inflicted on her, but rise above it and tell her story to the entire world.
The writing style is unique. Written in the perspective of 6 yr old Lauck, the story tells everything from the kitchen counter down. Some passages and thoughts are totally random and Lauck goes into great detail about the strangest subjects... just like the mind of a 6 yr old. I think this is one reasons I like the book so much. Lauck was able to capture and describe the way a child thinks and views the world in an incredible way.
I look forward to reading the follow-up to Blackbird. I am concerned for lauck's brother B.J./Bryan. Lauck describes his deeply burried anger throughout the book, and I fear for his ability to cope with that anger later in life.
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