Those who relished Lauck's bestselling memoir Blackbird will dive happily into this satisfying sequel. It picks up at the bus station where readers left little Jennifer meeting her grandfather, who they hoped would provide a safe haven after the tragic events that left her orphaned and at the mercy of a wicked stepmother. This book opens with the police report of her brother Bryan's suicide; while its impact may be less dramatic to Lauck's first-time readers, they'll soon become absorbed by her compelling backstory and believable young voice. After settling into her grandparents' cozy trailer home, Jennifer learns that it's temporary; soon she will live with her Aunt Georgia and Uncle Dick. Other relatives take in Bryan, and they remain in separate households. In her new home, Jennifer becomes wary of the grownups who take advantage of her monthly Social Security checks but show little affection for her. She makes friends in high school and chronicles the vicissitudes of early love. In her first year of college, Lauck learns of Bryan's suicide, and his fate is never far from her mind. After a failed first marriage, Lauck finds happiness in a second marriage and a child, with the help of therapy and New Age inspiration. Eventually, she sets out to learn why her brother killed himself, and her journey ends with a spiritual awakening. Lauck's voice successfully blends the tragic-turned-triumphant heroine with the everywoman. Women readers especially will identify with her high school romances and college and career travails. (Oct. 9)
Forecast:A 14-city tour, Blackbird's human interest cliffhanger and that book's success will take this one far.
Release date: 10/01/2001