Excerpt from Blackbird by Jennifer Lauck, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Blackbird

A Childhood Lost and Found

By Jennifer Lauck

Blackbird
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Sep 2000,
    410 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2001,
    432 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"I'm going into the dining room," I say.

"Play quiet," Dora says.

"I will," I say.

Dora nods and her face moves again, maybe a smile, maybe not. I can't tell.

Through the kitchen is the dining room, and after Momma's room, the dining room is the best place.

Our table is wood and the ends are the kind you can slide in or out so the table gets smaller or bigger. Momma says the ends are called "leaves," which seems just right since the leaves of the table have leaves painted on. The painted leaves wind up around tulips painted red and vines painted brown. The same painting is on the back of each chair, six chairs, and there is more painting on the buffet and the hutch, all the leaves and the tulips and the vines making our dining room a garden.

Under the table, I lie long, look at the underbelly, see how our table is held together. There are wood pegs and flat bands of iron hammered in with iron nails, everything together like roots.

Another thing about under the table is the smell. Dora uses lemon furniture polish so there is the smell of lemons and wood.

Diana walks to where I sit and rubs against my leg, lies her cat body in a triangle of sunshine. Under the table, I pet Diana between her ears, over her soft creamy-colored tummy, and watch afternoon shadows spread wide over the carpet.


When the shadows are almost gone, when you can see dust float in the low angle of the sun, when Diana pushes under the drapes to catch the last bit of warm light, that's when I know everything in the house on Mary Street is going to change from shadows and quiet to light and sound.

First is the sound of a car in the driveway, the engine all sputter and spit. Then there is B.J., who yells out "Dad," and the sound of Daddy, who yells for B.J. to come in the house. Last is the kitchen door, a squeak on the hinge, and the sound of Daddy's voice when he says hello to Dora.

I crawl from under the table, run into the kitchen, and jump. Daddy always catches me, swings me up in a circle, and my stomach is full of caught butterflies.

Daddy settles me against his chest and I fit just right in the crook of his arm. This close he smells like tobacco and coffee and That Man cologne and I can see how his eyes are lots of different colors of brown, like spices all ground up.

"Did you miss me?" Daddy says.

"I did," I say. "I missed you a lot."

Momma says Daddy is the best kind of good-looking, boy next door mixed with drop-dead handsome. My favorite thing about Daddy is his smile, a big happy smile that makes you feel good about everything.

B.J. pushes into the door and his face is red around the cheeks from being outside.

"Dad!" B.J. says.

"Hey, buddy," Daddy says.

Daddy puts his hand on B.J.'s crew cut hair and B.J. smiles the kind of smile that's all the way into his eyes.

The kitchen is full of thick dinner smells and Dora says it's dinnertime in thirty minutes.

"Why don't you get cleaned up for dinner, son," Daddy says.

"Okay," B.J. says, out of breath.

B.J. slams the door and runs down the hall to the bathroom.

Daddy carries me into the dining room and turns on the light.

"How is your Mom today?" Daddy says.

Daddy carries me into the sunken living room and turns on another light.

"It's a good day and a bad day," I say.

Daddy reaches his hand to the lamp next to his big leather chair, turns the switch from off to on, and now the room is all light, no shadows.

"What's that mean?" Daddy says.

I bite my bottom lip and hold my arms around his neck, the warm from his body against my hands.

"She got up for a while," I say, "but then she was tired."

Copyright © 2000 by Jennifer Lauck.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.