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

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


A Childhood Lost and Found

by Jennifer Lauck

  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Daddy has the kind of eyes that tell you exactly what he thinks even when he won't say it. Most of the time, he thinks about work and money and important things I don't know about. The way he looks now, I know bad days make him nervous and restless, make him look like a trapped animal.

Daddy coughs a little cough, rubs his hand over his five o'clock shadow, and makes his face smile.

"Well, let's go see for ourselves," Daddy says. "Maybe she is all rested and ready to go."

In their room, Momma sits up in the California King and she has her pillows behind her back. When she sees Daddy, her dark eyes are full of that special look and Daddy leans down, kisses her on the lips. They talk to each other, voices low, hi's and how are you's and stuff like that. I hear Daddy ask how she feels and Momma says she's just fine.

When Daddy is home and all of us are in their bedroom, that's when I know something is wrong. It's the sound of Momma's voice, high like a hostess who says one thing but means another. It's the way Daddy holds his breath back and gets that pinched-up skin between his eyes when he thinks too hard. It's how B.J. hits his fist into his open hand, over and over and over. I don't know what's wrong, but all over my arms and legs, I get a bad feeling.

Daddy takes his wallet, keys, and extra change out of his pants pocket, winds his watch, loosens his tie, and the whole time he talks about work and being busy and investments he wants to make, says how he is either going to be broke or rich by tomorrow.

Momma watches him move around and she just listens.

B.J. sits on the end of the bed, pushes his finger into Diana's side, and he talks about school and astronauts and what kind of bug he caught outside.

Momma smiles a hostess kind of smile and listens.

Daddy takes out a pack of Marlboros, lights his cigarette with a match, lights a cigarette for Momma, and then he and B.J. talk to each other about homework and tests and grades.

Momma smokes her cigarette and listens.

Maybe it's being tired, maybe it's not feeling so good, maybe it's how she's hungry for dinner. All you have to do is really look to know something else is going on inside Momma's head. When she looks that way, I sit as close to her side as I can and she smiles a real smile and blinks her secret thoughts away.

Momma says dinner in the dining room makes it special and that's where we always eat, at least when we are all together.

B.J. does the plates and glasses. Milk glasses for us, wineglasses for Momma and Daddy. I do napkins and silverware, fold the paper napkins in triangles and then set the fork on top, knife and spoon on the other side.

Presentation is everything.

Dora puts the food on the table and there's mashed potatoes, meat loaf, a bowl of green beans, and a bowl of applesauce. She puts them on one side of the table, closest to where Momma sits. Dora pours B.J. and me a glass of milk, fills Daddy's wineglass just halfway, and then makes a pot of coffee for after dinner.

After everything is ready, Dora puts on her coat and leaves out the back door, so quiet you don't even know she has left.

Daddy helps Momma out of their room, her arm on his arm, and she's all dressed like it's a good day. Momma wears a pair of light pink pants and a pink and green sweater set, the top button of the sweater done up. Daddy pulls out her chair, the one right next to him at the head of the table, and she sits down slow and careful, her face with that smile like everything is just fine. Daddy helps her scoot her chair in and she takes her napkin, unfolds it, and lays it in her lap.

B.J. sits across from Momma and I sit next to her. B.J. and me unfold our napkins, lay them on our laps. That's the rule.

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: Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Marriage of Opposites
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's latest work, The Marriage of Opposites, is a historical fiction novel focusing on ...
  • Book Jacket: Miss Jane
    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson
    National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson returns with an intimate novel about one woman's journey to...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    All Is Not Forgotten
    by Wendy Walker

    This is fast-paced psychological suspense/thriller at it's very best.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Secret Language of Stones
    by M. J. Rose

    "A fantastic historical tale of war, love, loss and intrigue."
    – Melanie Benjamin

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!


Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & 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.


BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!