Posts Tagged With: childhood

Blackbird by Jennifer Lauck

blackbirdSynopsis from Amazon:

The house on Mary Street, Carson City, Nevada is the only place five-year-old Jennifer Lauck will ever call home. It’s where the sky is deep blue, forever blue, and there are almost never any clouds up there. It’s where Jennifer lives with her older brother B.J., her father and mother, and their two cats Moshe and Diane. It should be a perfect, peaceful childhood – but Jennifer’s mother is ill, very ill, and a childhood is the last thing Jennifer is going to be allowed.

Oh my word, what a sad book. I read this book in three sittings. It is such a good book, but so powerful and moving. This story follows Jennifer through from the age of 5 to the age of 12. The best way to describe it is like a real like Snow White story – with the death of the parents and the evil step mother.

Jennifer is an amazing girl. She has grown up too fast, had to deal with all sorts of horrid things, yet she is strong and able to look after herself. I can only admire her. I loved the way the family comes through for her, there is such a strong sense of family, and wanting to be happy in one.

I could have cried at most of this book, I laughed in places, and was thoroughly moved and longed for the best for Jennifer. I was rooting all the time for her.

I adored this book.


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In the Blood – Andrew Motion


For most people childhood ends slowly, so nobody can see where one part of life finishes and the next bit starts. But my childhood has ended suddenly. In a day.

In the Blood is Andrew Motion’s beautifully delivered memoir of growing-up in post-war England — an unforgettable evocation of family life, school life, and country life. It also tells the story of how these worlds were shattered when Motion’s mother suffered a terrible riding accident. The tragedy shadows the book, feeding its mood of elegy as well as its celebratory vigilance. Told from a teenage child’s point of view, without the benefit of hindsight, Motion captures the pathos and puzzlement of childhood with great clarity of expression and freshness of memory. We encounter a strange but beguiling extended family, a profound love of the natural world, and a growing passion for books and writing.  


This book, on the whole was a disappointment. I am not sure why. Perhaps it was because of Motion’s status as a poet, that I expected more. Perhaps it was to do with how I perceived the advertising literature. I can’t say. However, I felt that although the book was based on a major event, Motion’s mother’s riding accident, it never went anywhere. It felt static. Motion grew up in a middle class, Home Counties country environment. There seemed to be nothing particularly odd or different about his upbringing…I suspect many will recognise his descriptions of hunting, and boarding school etc. Equally many will have no experience of these things themselves, but will be familiar with them from numerous other writings on such topics. His detail is well written and poetically descriptive, as you would expect, yet somehow boring, and I wondered what his point was. Why did he feel the need to write about his childhood in such poignant detail? Was it because of his mother’s accident, or in spite of…some sort of justification for the tragedy which was her life. Was he trying to convince himself that he had been the model son, despite the events which shaped his growing years?

He felt that his life changed overnight, and childhood ended abruptly. This obviously marked him, even traumatised him. He seemed not to be able to cope as well as his younger brother, who seemed to be philosophical about everything. I was not sure about the reasons for this. His relationship with his mother seemed ambivalent to me, though I could never fathom why. They seemed to become closer as he grew older and confided in her, telling her about his desire to write, but even then, I felt a coldness between them. When the book ends we don’t know what happened to Mrs Motion. Did she live or die? How did Andrew feel about her in the years after the accident?

There seemed for me, to be more questions at the end of the book, than had been answered during it, which surprised me. I was frustrated because of the lack of direction. Why was he telling us this story? Had he learned anything from it? I felt that in reality, he had not divulged all, either to his readers or himself, and this felt like a very loose end. Even though it was written from the perspective of a confused teenager, it didn’t work for me.

Strangely though, the book stayed with me for days after I had read it, and again there was nothing I could pinpoint or refer to particularly, but just a vague feeling of it not being finished…and I wanted a conclusion. I didn’t feel as if I had got to know the real Andrew Motion at all.

Overall a disappointment, but I do not regret reading it, as I believe there is food for thought there, which will be useful when reading his other works.


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