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 by Jennifer Lauck X
Blackbird by Jennifer Lauck
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2000, 410 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2001, 432 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


I don't like to be too far from Momma when there are visitors since she gets tired and might need something. I come in from the backyard, stand next to the big purple grape, and wave at my cousins, at Aunt Georgia.

Aunt Georgia is thin, thin, bird thin, and she wears navy blue shorts and a blue and white striped tank top. Momma says Aunt Georgia dresses sportswear mix-and-match.

"I need more than a wave, little girl," Aunt Georgia says. "Come give me a big hug."

Momma laughs and Aunt Georgia puts her tanned arms wide. Aunt Georgia always gives me a hug when she comes to visit and I like that about her, like how she smells like soap and toothpaste and the same kind of almond lotion that Momma uses.

She sets me back from her then and looks at my face, really looks.

"That's better," Aunt Georgia says.

Aunt Georgia gets a cup of coffee for herself and sits on the long green sofa. I get out my crayons and color books and sit on the floor with Carrie Sue. Jeff crawls up on Aunt Georgia's lap the way little kids do and puts his thumb in his mouth.

Carrie Sue lies on her stomach, takes a brown crayon out of my crayon box, and colors inside the lines of a horse. I don't feel like coloring, just sit on the floor with my back against the big purple grape, where I can watch Carrie Sue, watch Momma, watch Aunt Georgia.

"You look thin, Janet," Aunt Georgia says.

Aunt Georgia snaps open her cigarette case, pulls out a cigarette, and offers it to Momma.

Momma takes the cigarette. "You think so?" Momma says.

Aunt Georgia takes out another cigarette, puts it between her lips, and nods.

"You've lost more weight," Aunt Georgia says.

Aunt Georgia lights her cigarette with one hand and then passes the lighter to Momma. Momma uses both hands to light her cigarette and then she passes the lighter back.

"Maybe, I don't know," Momma says, "I don't think so."

Jeff climbs off Aunt Georgia's lap, gets on the floor with Carrie Sue, takes a blue crayon, and breaks it in half.

"Yes, you do look thin," Aunt Georgia says. "Maybe a little too thin."

Momma smokes and her cheeks suck in and in and then she blows the smoke up to the ceiling. She clears her throat and smiles.

"Can you be too thin?" Momma says.

Aunt Georgia smiles too and then the two of them laugh at some joke only they understand.

Aunt Georgia is married to Uncle Charles, except she calls him Chuck and he calls her George. Uncle Charles is Momma's favorite brother and out of all my uncles, he's probably my favorite too. He talks in a deep, loud voice and his eyes are the best color of blue and they look like they have a light shining from the inside out.

Momma and Aunt Georgia talk grown-up. Aunt Georgia asks if Momma and Daddy are going to take any trips to Carmel and Momma says no, not right now. Momma says she'd like to take a day and go up to Lake Tahoe and Aunt Georgia says she's been too busy for the lake and doesn't want to spend the money since they want to save up and get a house.

After a while, Aunt Georgia does all the talking and Momma is quiet like something might be wrong. Momma smiles and nods like everything is fine, but her eyes are tired.

Carrie Sue drops the brown crayon, just half a crayon now, and Jeff takes it, makes zigzags over his page.

"Let's go play in your room," Carrie Sue says.

"I want to stay here," I say.

"Momma," Carrie Sue says.

"I don't want to play in my room," I say.

Aunt Georgia clears her throat, snuffs out her cigarette in the ashtray.

Momma's cigarette is a long ash and it's burned almost all the way down. I slide the ashtray closer and Momma jumps a little. The long ash falls off in the ashtray and Momma looks at me, smiles a tired smile.

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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...
  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Last Ballad
    by Wiley Cash
    A hundred years ago or so, farming land west of Charlotte, North Carolina was given over to giant ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Graybar Hotel
    by Curtis Dawkins
    We – those of us on the outside – are lucky. So very lucky. We get to experience life &#...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Place for Us
    by Fatima Farheen Mirza

    A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If You See Me, Don't Say Hi

If You See Me, Don't Say Hi by Neel Patel

Patel's stories introduce a bold and timely new literary voice.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A P Saved I A P E

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.