9780152019167 / 0152019162

Born Blue


Publisher:HMH Books for Young Readers



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About the book:

Despite her natural talent for singing, 6-year-old Janie knows deep in her heart that if you really want to sing and feel the blues, you gotta be black. Aren't the tapes of the "ladies"--Aretha, Etta, and Billie--that she listens to every night in the stinking basement of her first foster home proof enough of that? So the scrawny, blond-haired, blue-eyed child of a heroin addict changes her name to Leshaya, decides that her unknown father was African American, and shuts down all feeling; only allowing the sorrow of her hard life to escape when she opens her mouth to sing. Raised by addicts and drug dealers, Leshaya trusts no one and loves nothing except her music: "Didn't need nobody else. I could make love to my own self with that sound ridin' the beat." Finally, after surviving several foster homes, a harrowing heroin withdrawal, and an unwanted pregnancy, 16-year-old Leshaya finds a band and ends up with a single on the radio. But can even that be enough for a girl so hungry for love that she looks everywhere for it except the one place she's sure to find it--within herself?

National Book Award recipient Han Nolan's fifth novel is an emotional stunner. Like Brock Cole's equally haunting The Facts Speak for Themselves, Born Blue is an unflinching look at a girl forced to grow up too fast in a callous world. Nolan's raw portrayal of Leshaya may hurt to read, but like a recently healed broken heart, it's a good pain. (Ages 14 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

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