When the Black Girl Sings

Bil Wright, Author . Simon & Schuster $16.99 (266p) ISBN 978-1-4169-3995-5

Wright (Sunday You Learn How to Box ) grabs hold of hard-hitting issues in a realistic and poignant novel that fully commands the audience's attention. Fourteen-year-old Lahni Schuler attempts to come to terms both with her status as the only black student in a school for privileged girls and with the news that her white adoptive parents are separating. This heavily freighted narrative evolves into an inspiring story as Lahni discovers a talent for singing and hidden inner strength. Instead of further dramatizing the negative aspects of Lahni's situation, Wright focuses on his character's efforts to surmount them—a strategy that enables readers to feel empowered alongside Lahni. The other major characters—the passionate gospel choir director, Marcus Delacroix III, and the charismatic soloist, Carietta Chisolm—may look like “round, brown, salt and pepper shakers with hair, in blue robes with red satin stoles” the first time she sees them at the front of the church where they sing, but they practically jump off the page with their positive energy and purpose, further amplifying the novel's vivacious spirit. In the end, Lahni is still a work in progress—which, as Wright illustrates, is the point. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/21/2008
Release date: 01/01/2008
Genre: Children's
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4391-6410-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 266 pages - 978-1-4169-4003-6
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