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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (10 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jennifer Lauck Narrator: Jennifer Lauck Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2000 ISBN: 9780743542050
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With the startling emotional immediacy of a fractured family photo album, Jennifer Lauck's incandescent memoir is the story of an ordinary girl growing up at the turn of the 1970s and the truly extraordinary circumstances of a childhood lost. Wrenching and unforgettable, Blackbird will carry your heart away.

The house on Mary Street was home to Jennifer; her older brother B.J.; their hardworking father, who smelled like aftershave and read her Snow White; and their mother, who called her little daughter Sunshine and embraced Jackie Kennedy's sense of style. Through a child's eyes, the skies of Carson City were forever blue, and life was perfect -- a world of Barbies, Bewitched, and the Beatles.

Even her mother's pain from her mysterious illness could be patted away with hairspray, powder, and a kiss on the cheek...But soon, everything Jennifer has come to love and rely on begins to crumble, sending her on a roller coaster of loss and loneliness. In a world unhinged by tragedy, where beautiful mothers die and families are warped by more than they can bear, a young girl must transcend a landscape of pain and mistreatment to discover her richest resource: her own unshakable will to survive.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The unblinking look of one child at a hard world. Written gloriously and movingly.”

    Frank McCourt, #1 New York Times bestseller

  • “This is one of those rare books that captures both the innocence of the child narrator and the wisdom of the adult author. Beautifully written, utterly convincing, alternately heartbreaking and inspiring, Blackbird is both a tribute to the author's mother and to her own powers of survival. I was so caught up in Jennifer Lauck's story I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, yet I didn't want it to end.”

    Hope Edelman, New York Times bestselling author

  • “[Jennifer] has constructed a riveting narrative from the awful mess of her life. That she has managed to do so fills me with an admiration for which I cannot find words. The best I can do is to suggest that you read this book.”

    Times (London)

  • “Jennifer Lauck has been to hell and back. The Portland, Oregon, author, a former TV journalist, is now the happily married mother of a three-year-old son. But her memoir, Blackbird, tells of the death of her adored mother when she was seven, and of an unraveling childhood that at one point left her abandoned in a Los Angeles slum. ‘I had lived my life pretty much pushing these memories away,’ says Lauck, 36. Then she started to search for the facts of her early life—and to mine her own painful memories. The result is a standout debut in the crowded memoir genre.”


  • “Jenny, experiencing the death of her parents…was forced into a religious cult and abused, all before junior high school, where this Dickensian orphan’s memoir ends. Hang on to that cliff: Lauck’s finishing a sequel that’s likely to be just as remarkable.”

    Talk magazine 

  • “Even as a child, Jennifer Lauck knew her life was unusually complicated, which is perhaps why she has chosen to narrate her memoir, Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found, from the perspective of the precocious child she was. It’s a choice that allows her recounting of grim, life-shattering events a stern ingeniousness that…the result is a novelistic vision of a life with both hope and heartache to spare.”


  • “If this were fiction, readers would find its chain of tragedies and surreal cruelties impossibly melodramatic but this riveting tale of a young girl so burdened with family trauma that she thinks, ‘I know nothing about being a kid,’ is a true story…and, indeed, she had to grapple with more of life’s miseries before puberty that most people face in a lifetime, a brutal coming of age she documents with remarkable lucidity and forgiveness.”


  • “There are no words to describe all of my feelings about this very special book. It is poignant, beautifully crafted—a tribute to a gifted writer and the author’s incredible spirit. I was struck by the fact that there was so little laughter in her life, yet she clung to the words of her mother and father who continued to give her strength.”

    Book Sense

  • “A searing, soaring memoir of one girl's complicated and almost unbelievable childhood…Lauck's literary achievements—voice, characterization, pacing—are as extraordinary as those of Frank McCourt and Dave Eggers, if not more so. A lost childhood reclaimed in profound triumph, and with the promise of a sequel to match.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 4/8/2011

    " Fabulous memoir in a child's voice is what I am now remembering and now I am reading her sequel memoir in her adult voice. You get so swept up that it's an emotional ride. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 3/29/2011

    " It is hard to believe this is a memoir. The girl had a tough/odd childhood. She comes out of it very strong though. I liked this book enough that I went on and read the next book, which has the next stage of her life depicted. That book is Stillwaters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ruth | 3/20/2011

    " Sad and touching look into a girl's childhood turned into a nightmare. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 3/15/2011

    " Couldn't put the blasted thing down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristi | 3/12/2011

    " Very good. I enjoyed reading this and Jennifer Lauck's two books that come after this one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Veronica | 3/9/2011

    " FASCINATING!! This is a tough memoir to read...especially if you have kids and imagine for a second that they are in the authors position. It is hard to believe sometimes how children can be treated. I am grateful for my upbringing and for giving our kids the security that they have. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Breanna | 3/2/2011

    " This was my biography for my prjectbut it was so amazing!!! But suspensful, and tragic can't believe its real. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anita | 2/15/2011

    " I found this very hard to read - not because of the writing but because of the content. It's hard to read about a child suffering. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary | 2/14/2011

    " I did not care for this book. The child's voice did not ring true. Not sure what all the great ratings on Amazon are all about. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barbara | 1/7/2011

    " Well written memoir of a childhood scarred by the illness of her mother, the loss of her father, and even a wicked stepmother. "

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About the Author
Author Jennifer Lauck

Jennifer Lauck is an award-winning journalist and the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Blackbird and its sequel, Still Waters. Before becoming a memoir writer, speaker, and teacher, she worked for eight years in television news for ABC affiliates from Montana to Oregon. She has been featured in Newsweek, Harper’s Bazaar, Talk magazine, People, Glamour, and Writer’s Digest. She lives in Portland, Oregon.