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When the Black Girl Sings Mass Market Paperback – April 7, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Adopted by loving, white parents and taunted by classmates as the only African American kid in her elite, private school, Lahni Schuler, 14, is scared of a boy who seems to be stalking her. At the same time, she’s distraught when her dad leaves her mom for another woman. Granted that’s a lot for one book to take on, but this one never becomes a heavy-handed problem novel because Lahni’s clear, first-person narrative is so authentic, expressing Lahni’s identity conflicts even as tension mounts to an exciting climax. The teen finally finds her place after her loving mom takes her to a multiracial church, where she sings with the gospel choir and is inspired by some great musicians and by her teacher-mentor to enter a school vocal competition. Moved by a powerful singer (“The notes went up and down like raindrops in a thunderstorm”), Lahni discovers her own rich gift, wears a beautiful jeweled Afro to the competition, and celebrates who she is. Grades 7-10. --Hazel Rochman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

* "Wright grabs hold of hard-hitting issues in a realistic and poignant novel that fully commands the audience's attention." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Readers will enjoy the distinctive characters, lively dialogue, and palette of adolescent and racial insecurities in this contemporary, upbeat story."--School Library Journal

"Without sugarcoating anything, Wright easily juggles the many issues found in the book with wit, compassion and humor. The writing is clear, succinct, and never condescending. The main characters are shown as multifaceted people with strengths and weaknesses effectively adding to the authenticity of the book."--VOYA

"Lahni's clear, first-person narrative is so authentic, expressing Lahni's identity conflicts even as tension mounts to an exciting climax."--Booklist --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse; Reprint edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416940030
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416940036
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,270,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on August 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Lahni Schuler sometimes just doesn't understand her life.

She doesn't understand why a Caucasian couple would adopt an African American baby. She doesn't understand why they would enroll that girl in a private school where she is the only African American. She doesn't understand why some of the girls at the school are so snotty and so ignorant, especially towards her. And she definitely doesn't understand why her parents are continuously arguing, when just weeks ago they would all watch movies together as a happy family.

What she does know is that she doesn't fit in, that her comfort zone involves keeping to herself, sometimes not even telling her best friend, Katie, everything, and that she has to be strong, especially for her mother, and that somewhere inside she has this amazing voice.

Mr. Faringhelli knows this, too, and wants Lahni to sing in a competition. Of course, Lahni isn't so sure about this, since it is out of her comfort zone, and she just doesn't think she could do it. Then the perfect timing comes into place when she decides to sing for her church's choir; what better way to practice singing, especially in front of a live audience. She not only surprises herself with this bold move, but also her mother. It's finally a place for Lahni to improve, to fit in, to forget all of her worries that continue to trouble her. It is the perfect escape.

Even though she does have the choir to comfort her, she knows that she will still have to deal with the girls at her school, and with her father leaving all of the time on little trips during the week, acting clueless and not wanting to talk about the situation at all. And she still has to deal with the singing competition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Kelly on February 20, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When the Black Girl Sings is the story of Lahni, a black girl adopted by white parents who are about to divorce. She is struggling in a lot of different ways: with snobby girls at school, with feeling betrayed by her father, with a strangely rude boy who is essentially stalking her. When it seems like nothing will ever go her way, she joins a church choir and becomes more confident and comfortable in her own skin.

Something I admire about this novel is that it is very clear that the boy who is stalking Lahni is out of line. So often, that rude boy character is revealed to have a soft interior and ends up in a relationship with the protagonist. This is not the case in When the Black Girl Sings and I feel that the novel is better for it.

Bil Wright does not tread on new territory here, but he does it with great respect for Lahni. I love teen novels where characters find their voice, both figuratively and literally.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. K. Mauney on May 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When the Black Girl Sings is a wonderful read. While Lahni Schuler has her share of 'real life' going on, the author maintains hope in the story. I have discovered a new author. This is the first of Mr. Wright's books I have read. I will definitely be going back to order his books for our library.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading Bil Wright's first two books, I was eager to get my hands on "When the Black Girl Sings." When I opened the book I was a little disappointed to see that it is actually intended for young readers. Being a not-so-young reader, I began the first page thinking the book would be too juvenile to hold my interest. In the hands of another author, this may have been the case. Wright is such a masterful storyteller, though, that I was captured from page #1. His imagery is direct and not at all flowery, and he never stoops to talking down to his reader or, worse, using current teen language to tell the story. Instead, he has crafted a feel-good novel that will certainly appeal to young readers without alienating their parents (or grandparents).

It is refreshing to read the work of a Black author that does not focus on violence, drugs, and innercity life. Indeed, Wright has set his story in a well-to-do Connecticut suburb.

This is not the typical "where do I fit in?" teen venture. Instead, the author touches on sensitive topics for substance instead of dramatic impact. The impact of this story, though, is one that will have a positive effect on the reader.

In his earlier work, Wright established himself as more than an able craftsman. He continues to uphold his impressive reputation in this effort. This story is very well suited for a television adaptation and it leaves the reader looking forward to a sequel.
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By Braille_Book_Reviews on November 2, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lahni, a black girl adopted by white parents, is sent to an all-white girls' school where she struggles to find herself.
The story is told from Lahni's point of view as she navigates her parents' divorce, her feelings of being different, and a musical contest at school.
Lahni learns of the school's singing contest and a friend nominates her to compete. A supportive teacher will not let her back out of the contest.
In the meantime, the pressures build for Lahni: she's trying to fit in at the all-white school; her parents are going through a divorce because her father has a girlfriend; and Onyx 1, from the boys' school next door (who believes himself to be black but isn't) harasses Lahni to get her attention. She finally gets him to back off. Lahni joins a church with her mother, and eventually becomes part of the choir and uses it as practrice for the singing contest.
Lahni is dealing with a lot of issues at once. However, there is a happy ending to this book---Lahni wins the contest and finds herself along the way. Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider or different, can identify with and relate to the feelings Lahni expresses. I recommend this book for Grades 5 - 8.
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