Monday, January 14, 2008

Julie's Review: Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found


Summary: 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 ~amazon.com/Publisher's Weekly

Review: A co-worker lent me this book,Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found and it's definitely not something I would normally read. I'm pretty adverse to memoirs for some reason, maybe it's because there's not a whole lot of "fact" checking as it is one person's recollection of their life. That being the case, I did enjoy the book, but I wouldn't read it again nor go out and buy the subsequent sequels. I felt for young Jenny and her rough childhood and her lack of stability. Unfortunately she's probably not alone in her plight. What was interesting was the fact that the author decided to write the book as if she was that age (5 when the book started, 11 when it ended). While this is an interesting voice to write a book in, I also felt that there were things that Jennifer figured out as an adult that she possibly couldn't have known at 5, i.e. the names of all the medication her mom was on. That being said I do feel that kids at that age are astute enough to know what is going on around them and the fact that her and BJ figured out their dad had a "friend" isn't unrealistic to me.

This memoir didn't disturb me as much as Running with Scissors: A Memoir did but maybe stuff doesn't shock me anymore and maybe that is what should disturb me. What I found most troubling is that none of Jenny and BJ's family came to "rescue" them from Deb, the step mom after tragedy strikes again. Where was the extended family? Why did they wait so long to find them? Jenny was and probably still is resilient. I guess when you are living through hell you can either chose to give up or resolve to be strong and she chose to be strong. I find that kids in general are a lot stronger and more resilient than us adults credit them with. That being said, any kind of abuse, emotional or physical, on someone, especially children is heinous.

Final Take: 3/5

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