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Born Blue Paperback – May 1, 2003

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Born Blue + Send Me Down a Miracle + Dancing on the Edge
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152046976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152046972
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #723,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Despite her natural talent for singing, 6-year-old Janie knows deep in her heart that if you really want to sing and feel the blues, you gotta be black. Aren't the tapes of the "ladies"--Aretha, Etta, and Billie--that she listens to every night in the stinking basement of her first foster home proof enough of that? So the scrawny, blond-haired, blue-eyed child of a heroin addict changes her name to Leshaya, decides that her unknown father was African American, and shuts down all feeling; only allowing the sorrow of her hard life to escape when she opens her mouth to sing. Raised by addicts and drug dealers, Leshaya trusts no one and loves nothing except her music: "Didn't need nobody else. I could make love to my own self with that sound ridin' the beat." Finally, after surviving several foster homes, a harrowing heroin withdrawal, and an unwanted pregnancy, 16-year-old Leshaya finds a band and ends up with a single on the radio. But can even that be enough for a girl so hungry for love that she looks everywhere for it except the one place she's sure to find it--within herself?

National Book Award recipient Han Nolan's fifth novel is an emotional stunner. Like Brock Cole's equally haunting The Facts Speak for Themselves, Born Blue is an unflinching look at a girl forced to grow up too fast in a callous world. Nolan's raw portrayal of Leshaya may hurt to read, but like a recently healed broken heart, it's a good pain. (Ages 14 and older) --Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Nolan (Dancing on the Edge) uses boldly honest first-person narrative to recount the saga of an emotionally disturbed teen, whose life-affirming passion for music constantly conflicts with her self-destructive tendencies. Abandoned by her mother, neglected by her foster parents and later kidnapped and sold by her mother to a drug dealer, Janie finds her only source of happiness when she hears "the ladies" Etta James, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan sing. Janie is lily-white, but she identifies more with the music, culture and rhythms of her African-American foster brother, Harmon. When, at a young age, she discovers her own remarkable singing voice, Janie (who changes her name to Leshaya) begins getting the attention she so desperately craves. Her talent proves to be both a blessing and a curse, however, bringing her opportunities and, at the same time, magnetically pulling her into a world where fellow musicians use drugs and sex to heighten their performance. The protagonist's serpentine narration often picks up characters then drops them just as abruptly, mirroring Janie's treatment of others. Some of the developing relationships her reunion with Harmon and her interest in a gifted songwriter, especially demonstrate Janie's inability to connect with others to chilling effect. But other examples feel gratuitous once her pattern of behavior is established. By the time readers reach the novel's conclusion, they will have gained an understanding of the tragic heroine's fears, desires and warped perception of family, but Janie herself remains hauntingly elusive, adding to the impact of the book. The question of whether or not Janie will break her cycle of abuse remains unanswered, yet young adults mature enough to bear the story's intensity will also likely recognize the characteristics of this deeply troubled girl from their own communities. Ages 14-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

I ended up starting to talk like her after I read the entire book.
Janie a young girl with the love for music is set out to be just like the ladies- Etta, Aretha, and Billie.
I like characters with a growth arc throughout the story, and Leshaya left me unsatisfied.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "melodious" on August 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Many professionals are writing about reactive attachment disorder, but this is the first book I've encountered that allows the reader to see into the soul of a child with this condition. The author does not attempt to sponge up the messes the protagonist creates for herself. Instead Han Nolan helps the reader understand why a child with this condition views the world without empathy for others. The protagonist's only concern is for herself because she cannot trust anyone else to care for her. The world is, after all, a very dangerous place. Despite the protagonist's anti-social actions, the reader experiences compassion for her. Perhaps this book will help more people become aware of RAD. We must continue to seek therapeutic alternatives for these children.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Dennis on July 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
When you first meet Janie, you know her life must be tough from the way she speeks and her lack of comprehension of everyday concepts common to suburban life. Janie comes from a heroine addict mother and right away the reader is sprung into her journey. Janie goes through many hardships including foster care, being sold for heroine, kidnapping, and constantly has new people in and out of her life. All the while Janie-Leshaysa is going after her dream of being a singer. Don't be fooled, this novel isn't some sappy musician's story. This novel is fierce and Leshaya is raw. It's amazing to see her effect on the people she comes across and their reaction to her. You think you know what is going to happen, but really you have no idea.There are so many twists and issues such as Janie's identitiy- who is her father, her baby's father, her denial of being white. I loved the ending because Nolan surprises the readers. The book is somewhat unconventional and readers will read the book from start to finish. Please beleive that readers will remember Janie-Leshaya long after finishing the novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
Born Blue by Han Nolan is about a girl with a herion addict mother. Janie or Leshaya has been through many foster homes, physical abuse, unwanted pregnancy and death. The only thing that makes Leshaya feel good is signing. Leshaya is a survivor of her painful past.

I liked this book because it tells people what some foster children go through. The book also tells me how hard it is to live in foster homes, and how hard it is to be physically abused. This book teaches me that if you have a goal and you want to achive it do what ever it takes no matter how bad your life has been. to survive you must be a survivor.-Tyeisha
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Leshaya will climb inside your head and bounce around for weeks after you've finished Born Blue. It's a tragic story of girl who didn't get what she needed - and deserved - and your heart will ache for her at every turn of the page.
Leshaya is one of the most memorable young American narrators since Huck Finn.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book was so amazing.I read this book ounce and just had to read it again.It is one of my favorite books and it is a book that I recomend for any1.Born Blue deserves an award................a very special one.Whenever blue you know what book to turn to
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The book Born Blue, written by Han Nolan, is an excellent book. Although it has some flaws, it is still very interesting. It's well written in most parts and you can get a feeling of what the main character is thinking at times. This book should have a strong connection with kids tat have been in a foster parent's care, even though the experience in the book isn't positive. I do not recommend this book to anyone under the age of twelve because of the content inside it.
Janie or Leshaya, as she is later called, was abandoned by her heroin-addict Mama Linda at the age of four. While Janie was swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, her Mama Linda is getting high and doesn't pay attention to Janie when she starts to drown. Janie get put into a hospital, and when she is released she get put into a foster home with Patsy and Pete in Alabama. In this house she meets another foster child named Harmon, an African-American who introduces Janie to "the ladies", whose music churns her sole. This music inspires Janie to sing, at times that's the only thing that she can think about. Harmon and Janie became good friends, being around Harmon made Janie think that she was an African-American and that she was just "light". Harmon's and Janie's social worker, Doris, is the only other that Janie talks to. When Harmon gets adopted and Doris's daughter, Leshaya, dies Janie is left all alone. In honor of Leshaya, Janie changes her name and decides to be Leshaya.
One day when Leshaya is coming home from school, Mama Linda appears and she takes her away. Leshaya knows that she is being kidnapped, but she doesn't care since she is with her mother. Little does she know that her mother actually sold her for heroin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate Morgan on February 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
This was an extremely dramatic book. It dealt with some pretty delicate situations.

Leshaya lives with her mother for a short time. Her mother is a heroine addict. Leshaya goes to a first foster home; her new mother is a nervous control freak and her new father is quiet and gone all the time, but Leshaya likes him. Then her mother shows up: her new Father is a drug dealer and sold her mother heroine. Leshaya goes to many foster homes and goes through alot. She ends up at the same place she started, right at the side of her mother.

I liked the book, don't get me wrong, but there were alot of things that got to me about the book:

1) Leshaya is any thing but a hero: she lets herself go at any time: drugs, sex, any thing.
2) Leshaya is stupid. She does stupid things to people who care about her and ruins all the relationships in her life.
3) The end of the book was extremely disappointing.

A good book, but defidentily not one of my favorites.

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More About the Author

I was born in Birmingham, Alabama. When I was 9 months old my family moved to New York where I spent most of my childhood and teen years. When I was a toddler, I had white blond hair that stood straight up on my head. My family called me "Hoot" back then because that and my big eyes made me look like an owl. I couldn't pronounce my first and middle names, which were Helen Harris, so I said "Hannah Hollis". My family shortened this to a variety of nicknames: Hahn, Han Holl, Han, Hannie, and Hannie Bucket, which my husband later shortened to Hannie B. The neighborhood kids also called me Hahn. It is now pronounced, Han, and it rhymes with man.

I was very active as a child--I loved to jump on beds, do somersaults, handstands and flips on and off of sofas, climb trees and do different tricks on the monkey bars at the playground. I also liked my own thoughts best. In kindergarten, I paid no attention to my teacher. She told my mother that she thought I had a hearing problem. My parents had my hearing tested. My ears were fine. When my mother told me what the teacher had said I replied that I heard my teacher all right, it's just that she kept interrupting all my good thoughts!

I've loved stories for as long as I can remember. One of my favorite memories is of my father telling me bedtime stories, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, B'rer Rabbit, and stories from the Bible such as my favorite, Joseph and his Coat of Many Colors. I loved to make up my own stories too. I didn't write them down until I was a little older, but I sure loved to make them up.

One of my favorites books as a child was "Harriet the Spy". I wanted to be a spy, so I started spying on my family, especially my older sister. It turned out I was a terrible spy because I kept getting caught, but I kept a spy notebook, just like Harriet. I quickly gave up on the spying, but writing thoughts and stories in a notebook has been a habit for me ever since.

When I was ten, I saw the movie "The Sound of Music" and I fell in love with it. Back then if you wanted to see a movie more than once you had to go to the theater. We didn't have videos. I only saw it once but I had the record album with all the music on it and I learned every word of it. I made up dances to go with it and gave a performance for my family. My brothers and sisters laughed at me. My parents and grandmother applauded and told me I was wonderful. For years after seeing that movie I would lie awake nights remembering the story of the Sound Of Music and making up my own stories to go with it. Lying awake nights making up stories instead of sleeping is a habit I still have, as my husband can tell you.

My elementary school years were tough--I hated school. I wanted to be at home with my mother. I used to feel sick to my stomach every morning and my mother would let me stay home sometimes. We moved to Kentucky when I was in the fifth grade. I stayed home a lot that year and I missed so much school I had to repeat the grade to make up all the work I had missed. After that I didn't get sick to my stomach anymore.

I didn't do well in school until the sixth grade. That's the year I was given my first creative writing assignment. I had been writing stories at home for years and of course keeping a journal filled with more stories and poems and all those important thoughts I had. My homeroom/English teacher was very impressed by my writing and this made me feel smart. I decided to do well in school after that, and I did. But what if that teacher hadn't encouraged me?

When I was 13, my mother enrolled me in dance class. At first I felt like a big oaf--all the other kids were younger, or had been taking dance lessons for years, so I was behind. But I loved it, and I began to work at it all the time: stretching so I could do splits and high kicks and dancing around the house to music. Two years later I was invited to join the special master classes for the best students. All that hard work had paid off.

I loved dance--I continued lessons into high school, and then went to college and graduate school as a dance major. I went to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as an undergraduate, and went to Ohio State for my Masters degree.

So how did I end up as a writer?

I got married after Grad school and I soon realized that my dancing took up too much of the wrong time. When my husband was at work I was at home, and when he was home I was dancing. I didn't like that at all, even though my husband took a beginning ballet class just so he could spend time with me. I left dance and I decided to return to my first love, writing. Soon after that we adopted three children and I knew for sure that staying home and writing instead of dancing was the best decision for me.

As an adult I still love to spend time with my family and friends, and I love to read, run, hike, bike, swim, go to plays and concerts, travel, and of course, write.

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