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Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found

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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  5,471 ratings  ·  461 reviews
With the startling emotional immediacy of a fractured family photo album, Jennifer Lauck's incandescent memoir is the story of an ordinary girl growing up at the turn of the 1970s and the truly extraordinary circumstances of a childhood lost. Wrenching and unforgettable, Blackbird will carry your heart away.

To young Jenny, the house on Mary Street was home -- the place whe
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Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Washington Square Press (first published 2000)
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The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankThe Glass Castle by Jeannette WallsI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya AngelouEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Memoirs by Women
48th out of 1,390 books — 1,783 voters
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Best Memoir / Biography / Autobiography
251st out of 2,840 books — 3,147 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jennifer Lauck
Mar 13, 2010 Jennifer Lauck rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
Is it wrong to review my own book? Heck no! I wrote it. Who better than me to speak about it?

What Blackbird is: a view into my own experience of childhood at a time when all I could do was be a first person, present tense witness. I wrote Blackbird from a place of longing to love and be loved as well as to speak to what I saw, lived, felt and questioned about that time. I was digging into the question of mother--as it was time in my life to become a mother. I wanted know my mother--not realizin
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Anna
I am fascinated by survival stories, as a survivor myself.

I interests me to look into someone else's experience. As children we just don't always understand what is going on. Yet you do your best to survive and make sense of your life.

How someone else managed is interesting to me.

I may have arrived at the doorstep of adulthood floating on a plank...but in my case, "only God can restore the years that the locust hath eaten"! He is, and not only that, working all things for GOOD.

Andrea Mosca
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy
i'm not sure if anyone even reads my reviews so i'm not sure why i write them.

i'm on page 222 of this book and it is breaking my heart so much that i'm torn between quitting reading the book or hurrying up to finish it in hopes that it gets better. Knowing that this is the author's memoir and that that these awful things happen to a young child is killing me...even though I went through some of the same things. It's hard to know others have been through your most painful life moments. I've cried
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Darby
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
KConaway
Apr 22, 2008 KConaway rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to KConaway by: Jami
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Chana
What do I think? I think, "was Deb out of her flipping mind??!!" Was it just the times, the 1970's cult era? I mean what the h*ll was going on in this kid's life? Jennifer Lauck writes of her childhood, and it is disturbing.
She is praised by critics for her ability to write in the voice of a child. I agree, she does this well. I've got lots of questions, but I guess if she wanted to fill in the blanks she would have done so. I mean, just stuff that sticks in my mind like, were the teeth she got
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Laura
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Petra
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly

Most of the time I don't read those little quotes or whatever you have to call them on the first pages of a book but this is so correct, sums everything up so beautiful. After everything that happened to her, she found somewhere the courage to carry on or was to stuburn to give up..
The begining of the book was a bit hard, when she talks about her mother in the words and thoughts of a 5-6 yo girl but then at a certain p
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Sandra
Memoirs by women are my favorite type of book to read. This book is written from a child's perspective which takes some getting used to. That said, her writing is very good. It is a story of childhood innocence and survival. Her story reminds you of your childhood and how vulnerable a child is to the harsh realities of life. I found myself thinking about being a parent and how incredibly difficult it is to raise children right. To do your best. I believe all of the adults in Jennifer's life (the ...more
Maggie
It took me almost 5 years to get around to this book, but I "enjoyed" (not sure that's the right word, given the depressing nature of this book) it. I appreciated that Lauck wrote the book as if she were still a child, and I think that helped her tell the story. For me, however, it made this book much more depressing because she is so totally powerless. One thing which bothered me throughout was her misuse of me/I. I know she's supposed to be a child and it may have been intentionally done, but ...more
Court
Jan 16, 2008 Court rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like tearjerker memoirs.
This is another of the many books that makes me wish goodreads offered 1/2 stars -- I'd give it a 3.5. I really liked it, but recognize that it's a classic hard-childhood tearjerker. I like Hope Edelman's (author of "Motherless Daughters") synopsis: "This is one of those rare books that captures both the innocence of the child narrator and the wisdom of the adult author...BLACKBIRD is both a tribute to the author's mother and to her own powers of survival." That said, I do think it's a powerful ...more
Lisa Vegan
Aug 06, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy memoirs about childhod (not for the faint of heart)
Loved this book. It was like a huge wallop of a punch to my stomach though. Jennifer Lauck’s memoir really got to me emotionally; it was a book that I thought about for a long time after I read it. She shows a remarkable resilience for suffering what she did. Contributed to changing my beliefs about one’s ability to cope and heal, at least for some people in some circumstances, no matter how horrible the circumstances. Lovely child's voice: she really remembers what it's like to be a child.
Stitchintime Hay
As a member of the club of adoptees and persons who were in the "system", this is a deeply penetrating memoir. It brings up disturbing memories, but those that need to be exorcized. I started a recollection of my life and called it 'a child still waits'...this memoir gets so close it's scary. I only know of one person who might grasp what this meant to me to read another person's young painful and redemptive survival. She will know who she is. If she hasn't read this, she should. I did't find an ...more
Rick
Living in Reno, I picked this book up primarily because of the local connection, The author was born and partially raised in this area and I thought I'd give it a shot. The book turned out to not really be my cup of tea, though the author does a great job writing. I can't fault her writing at all.

The author---Jennifer Lauck---has a mother who is dying at the beginning of the book, a workaholic father who is often times absent, and a bit older brother who is portrayed throughout much of the book
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Bryn
This memoir is not for the faint of heart. It is intense and while you read you are wishing that it is fiction. It is hard to believe that someone could endure all that this little girl did. I actually found myself feeling very depressed as I read. I contemplated numerous times not finishing because it was so hard to get through. It is overwhelming to think that I can barely even make myself read about what a little child actually had to live.

This book brought up a very important question in my
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Sarah B.
Lauck has an amazing story to tell about five or six years of her life, starting when she was age 5 and her mother's health went from bad to worse. The story was gripping, and I couldn't put it down.

I did struggle with the author's voice, especially in the first part of the book where she is writing from the point of view of herself at age 5. The childish tone, which is presumably meant to be true to a 5-year-old's voice, made the book almost unreadable for me. Here is an example from page 54 th
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Louise
This was a beautifully written memoir looking through the eyes of a child. Not fully understanding what's happening to her family, especially her mother, Jennifer has a maturity beyond her age, yet remains a child at the same time. At age 5 and not fully aware of what is wrong with Mommy, other than she is 'ill', the level of committment and her watchful eye, Jennifer's love for her Mom is heartbreakingly real. I'll definitely be reading the follow-up to this!

From back cover:

"To young Jenny, the
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Mary Anne
Jennifer has empowered herself and others by revisiting critical years from her childhood in this hauntingly genuine memoir. Telling her story in the voice of a child and including vivid details of her environment, I felt I was actually experiencing what she described. This brilliant and creative transportive technique was almost too much to bear at first, but before long I could not stop listening (I had the audio version in my car for work/school commutes). This book is about the complications ...more
Kris
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
jenne'  Andrews
i can't find Bye-bye Blackbird so I'm writing off the excerpt on She Writes.

Chapter 1 is posted there for all to view. The writing's good, but the device used is distressing. As a context for writing about her adoption, the writer uses nuclear bomb testing. There is a certain gratituousness about this. Are these things equivalent in any way-- no.

She speaks of the bomb being dropped of her mother's pregnancy, overly obvious segue from discussion of the mercilessly blunt names of the tested bombs
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Kelley
This story was so incredibly sad that I might not have finished it if it weren't for the words "The Story of a Childhood Lost and Found"in the title. Just when I thought this girl's young life couldn't be more tragic it was. But the passage that gave the title its other part made the difficult passages worth it. As a Beatles fan I wondered what the connection to one of my favorite songs would be and when I found the answer it was so moving it made me cry. The fact that Jennifer Lauck was born th ...more
Susy
I love memoirs and this book was suggested by one of the women in my book group. I was forewarned that the author's childhood was harsh but that her memories of her parents kept her moving forward. This book is well written; it's hard to write a memoir using the author's voice as she was during the years from 5 to 12 but it worked. The ending is hopeful so of course I immediately googled 'Jennifer Lauck' with the hope of reading that life just continued to get better for her. It didn't although ...more
Fred Daly
I read this memoir as part of an independent study. The author recalls her painful childhood: mother dies when she's about six, father marries a woman who has three children of her own, and then he dies too. The stepmother is appalling: favors her own children, sends Jenny to a camp run by Scientologists (where she's molested), and eventually puts her by herself in a kind of Scientologist homeless shelter. The book is written like a novel (long conversations -- whose memory is that good?), and I ...more
Ben
I liked this book. I'm only going to give it a 3 though because the writing was pretty simple and it was a very easy read. (I know the story is told from the perspective of a young girl so that's why the writing is simple. The author did a good job of capturing a child's voice but it just got a little tiresome.) Usually I am skeptical of memoirs because I feel authors take a lot of liberties. However, this account was not too over-the-top (like Running with Scissors) so I did enjoy the story. Th ...more
Erin
I've given the book a little more thought and am changing my review. This is one of the saddest stories I have ever read, that has not changed. But I think one of the things that bothered me was that it just didn't ring true to me - nobody ever helped this girl, and she was in so many different situations where someone could have stepped forward. I know people can "fall through the cracks" but it was just too much. However, I can see how in her young mind these situations may have seemed more ex ...more
Xenia0201
Reading this certainly puts life in perspective for you. Jenny has a good family life until her mother's chronic illness makes it necessary for them to move from Carson City, NV to southern CA so she can be near specialists. Within 2 years, the unthinkable occurs, her world is completely unraveled and she is coping with it alone. It's amazing how her survival skills kick in, and despite all of the loneliness and abuse she is subjected to, she still remains a very kind sweet trusting person. I fe ...more
Heather Denkmire
I listened to this book on tape, read by the author. At first I found the reading voice distracting, but I got used to it. I found it interesting that it was meant to be from the child's perspective but it felt to me like an adult remembering as a child might remember (which, of course, it was). I was particularly impressed with the author's ability to show her traumatic life while obviously leaving out a lot of the gory details. Dropping a line here and there about some horrific things make it ...more
Cary
Seriously, she ends the book at that point!!?? Have to get the next installment immediately...

Amanda
SO sad, I read her trio of biographical books in anticipation of meeting the author and hearing her speak on her life's awakening. This book {Blackbird} was my first by Jennifer Lauck and left me wanting more - which was immediately sated by her next book Still Waters, a less turbulent time in her life but still marred with her deep familial scars. Her last book , Show me the Way, was an ending of sorts, but I still have many questions. Jennifer's wilingness to open her soul to us amazes me; her ...more
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Jennifer Lauck is the author of four memoirs, which include the international bestsellers Blackbird,Still Waters, Show Me the Way and soon to be released Found by Seal Press. A former newspaper reporter and television producer, Jennifer now lives in Portland, Oregon, with her two children
More about Jennifer Lauck...
Still Waters Found Show Me the Way: A Memoir in Stories Writing life La canción del mirlo

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“I can say anything, but the things I want to say are trapped in that wide open space so I don’t say anything at all.” 8 likes
“All his genius and he’s wrong. I can stay mad forever.” 1 likes
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