Virna's Reviews > Born Blue

Born Blue by Han Nolan
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Feb 09, 14

bookshelves: abandoned-children, ya, fiction, the-south, mothers, music
Read from September 28 to 30, 2012 — I own a copy

Reading this book reminded me of my troubled students. One thing for sure, parents make all the difference. I can tell lots of stories about my silver-spoon-fed students - those whose parents told them they don't have to worry about money the rest of their lives - and they are no different with Janie/Leshaya of this story.

Janie grew up in foster care; her mother gave her up to an abusive foster parents. From the beginning there's always been someone who still cared for her, like Doris, the social worker who's assigned to check up on her from time to time. She's got a best friend in Harmon, who introduced her to 'the ladies' - the jazz greats Etta, Aretha, Odetta, Roberta - and made her sing. She could hit the right notes since she was little and people were struck by her youth when they turned around and see who sang.

However, life hadn't spared her from bad parenting. The whole story took the readers to the downward spiral of Janie, reinventing herself into Leshaya, from an innocent 9 year-old kidnapped by a pair of drug dealers (her mom traded her for heroin) to a 13 year-old club singer who gave away her own daughter. At times people actually cared for her, but it had always been hard to trust people due to her upbringing, she ended up 'burning bridges' and either ran away or had herself kicked out.

Some reviewers wondered how Leshaya failed to appreciate all the cares she received, but after spending time with middle-schoolers, I know that children has to be both taught and nurtured, and even when they thought they know everything about the world, they do not. Also, you cannot make a difference in someone's life unless you are willing to sacrifice yourself. It takes a long time for people to turn away from bad influences, especially when you've known these things growing up.

Being a teacher means seeing a lot of different kids come and go. By the time kids reach middle school, they come with a lot of baggage, be it good or bad. I've been a teacher for almost 3 years, and sometimes I regret the way I acted toward some of my troubled kids, now going on to higher grades. Some kids have came up to me and acknowledged how my discipline have helped them in high school, but most just stayed their old same selves and made me wonder, if only I got to be their parents, I'd probably manage to change their bad habits.

This book opened my eyes wider about being a good influence to people around you who need help. Sometimes you think you don't make any difference by helping someone in trouble, but as long as you do it because it's right, you've touched that person's life and maybe, just maybe, someday they'll appreciate it and touch other people's life because of you.

Lastly, a word about the way this novel's written - it'd remind you of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' where the writer uses spelling and wording commonly found in the South, so please don't judge the book by its writing! And the way she ends the story, while it may exasperates some readers, I think it's a good way to end so we know that either way, Janie realized how this one decision may change the course of her daughter's life.
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