The second book I choose to read for the 2012 Adoption Book Challenge is a fiction one titled,When the Black Girl Sings, written by Bil Wright, published in 2008 for young adults and picked as a Junior Library Guild Selection.
I hope that Mita and Meg will read this book as it speaks to their age and I think Mita can identify with the main character, Lahni. Of course I can not push it on them to forcefully or it will come right back. The joys of having twelve year old girls!
A quick plot review: Lahni is a tranracially adopted, only child who is fourteen years old. Her parents are white and she goes to an elite private school where she is the only student of color. It seems her main goal in life is to not be noticed and she ends up being put in the spotlight without her asking to be. Along the way she deals with divorcing parents, an older boy who is threatening, dealing with normal school issues and trying to find her voice. She also developed some new relationships with adult African Americans and this makes a big impact on her.
As a mother to two trans-racially adopted children there were a few parts of the book that made me feel triumphant, as I am a much more open and affectionate mother than Lahni’s mom. Here are a couple of lines where I felt this:
“Do you think I have a decent voice?”
“Of course I do. God knows where you get it from. Certainly not your father or me.”
How could she be saying this. It is not as though she knows more than I do if my real mother or father were good singers. But it was something my mom always did. Speak as though were were really one family, instead of me being apart of someone else’s.
The family dynamics demonstrated in the book showed that Lahni was very loved by her parents, but that they were distant enough to Lahni to sometimes think that they thought the adoption was a mistake. While reading the book I would get irritated at some of the interactions of the family, but I do acknowledge that her younger memories show a happier, close knit family. The strain of the divorce and Lahni becoming a teenager may be a couple of factors for the emptiness felt in this family. You can see both parents struggling and so can Lahni.
I have to wonder though, if the author is showing his experience or lack of experience with trans-racial adoption in this story, or if in fact this is just how he envisioned the story. I would love to talk to him and ask him. I hope that people don’t assume that trans-racial adoption, or any type adoption at all for that matter produces lack-luster affection in families or families who don’t address and celebrate their differences.
Any thoughts on this book if you have read it? I really enjoyed it. I even sat in a Sears parking lot today reading it, because it was driving me nuts having it in my purse while I was running errands and I couldn’t finish it! I love it when a book gets into me that way.
(Disclaimer: I was not asked to read or review this book, I just wanted to for participation in the 2012 Adoption Reading Challenge hosted by Jenna. Links are Amazon Affiliates.)