Friday, July 24, 2009

When the Black Girl Sings Review/Liar/Black Man on the Titanic!

I'm still trying to calm down and just breathe about the whole Liar issue. I encourage everyone to email Bloomsbury's PR person Although I agree with Colleen at Chasing Ray, I too want to email Cecka and give her a piece of my mind. Please everyone email! This is so not unacceptable.

I almost feel naive, because before when I was younger, there was always (at least for me) lots of children's books with poc main characters. My father bought us books in Spanish (*BTW I'm half black, half Latina) and my mother bought my siblings and I books with AA main characters, especially the fairy tales. But honestly, when I was younger I didn't always want to read books with AA characters, it didn't bother me seeing books with people on the cover who didn't look like me. I wanted to be white when I was kid *hangs head in shame*. But, as I got older, I grew out of that (with the help of "Black is Beautiful" talks by my parents) and wanted to read more books with people who looked like me. Then I began to notice the lack of diversity on covers, but I never thought it was because the publishing companies didn't think they would sell. I just thought it meant the black authors just weren't being published because their books weren't good enough or they were trying hard enough. Or that there wasn't that many authors writing books about toc. I'm ashamed/happy to admit I was wrong. Ashamed that I could ever think that black authors weren't good enough, happy to know that people are writing YA books about poc, they just aren't being published or reviewed, or prominently displayed.

Also, apparently you can find some YA books with poc (specifically AAs) main characters in the African American or Urban Fiction sections in bookstores. Honestly, I always thought the AA section and Urban Fiction sections were just for adults (often it's Zane and other romantic novels being displayed with poc on the covers in the section). There's nothing wrong with that,we deserve romantic fiction as well with people who like us. However, if there books about teenagers in those sections it should say so or be prominently displayed! Just my opinion.

Totally random but so cool: There was a black man on the Titanic! He was Haitian. That is so cool!! well I don't know if cool is the right word because he died, but his family made it out safely. What I want to is: why isn't this more common knowledge? Read about it here please. I agree with the author of this article, I would have at least wanted to see a black man on the Titanic in the movie Titanic. I only just heard about this today because my mom emailed me about it, because she didn't know about it and wanted to know if I did. She heard about it from her fellow Jack & Jill members (you know they know this stuff!)

When the Black Girl Sings by Bill Wright

There are two covers
I have the 2nd one (with just the butterflies). Which one do you like better? Personally I like the 1st one better, I hope everyone buys the book, but especially if it has the first cover on it. As a big "Take that!" to Bloomsbury publishing, to show that books with black girls on them sell just as well (if not better if given the chance) than books with white girls on the cover.

Rating: 4/5

Lahni Schuler is the only black student at her private school (and only one of the few girls of color there, there is also an Asian girl). Not only that, but she's adopted. By white parents. Who are getting a divorce. That's tough. All Lahni really has is her best friend Katie (who is white) and her lovely singing voice. Her best friend nominates her to be in a singing competition (and is seconded by Lahni's music teacher) in front of the whole school. Lahni is not expected to win, neither is the Asian girl in the competition. Everyone is betting on the white girl to win it.

I.Q. "And if Jesus, or even God, was always watching me, then they had to know nothing was going particularly well. So what good was their watching doing if all they were seeing was disaster?" -Lahni. I've thought the same thing so many times!

First of all, I can't imagine going to a school and being the only black person in the whole school (I don't even know if I could handle it if I was the only black person in my grade) and I think Lahni generally handled it the way I would have. I saw myself in her. Although, quite honestly, I couldn't believe some of the racist comments people made, mainly because the book is set in the present and I couldn't fathom how people could still say/believe these things. I would have either said something really biting and sarcastic or maybe even gotten in a fight. Which is where Lahni and I differ and it frustrated me. She just kind of took it, she was too shy to really say anything a lot of the time.

I also really liked the gospel choir aspect of the book. The imagery described. I could see (and honestly I felt like I could hear) the gospel choir, see the church, Lahni, her parents. Nicely detailed. Onyx 1 was scarily creepy (gotta read to find out who that is!) and sometimes I wanted to smack Donna or just laugh at her.

This novel was sweet and just plain wonderful. I don't have any complaints except about a character and that's so minor. My sister (who got the singing gift, it skipped me) is three years younger and she read it. She loved it (she is one of two black girls in her grade so I think she related even more. except my sister has a ton of white friends, but like me she gets tired of the 'why don't you wash your hair everyday?', 'can you tan?' questions. Even if they are innocent and being asked by friends. It's annoying and hard to be patient when you get asked the same thing so many times.) I'm really surprised that there aren't more reviews of this book, the one other review I found said that the book was 'too negative'. Could that analysis have to do with the book being reviewed by a white person?. I dont mean to be rude, but a lot of 'negative' things in that book are reality for poc, and I don't think that reviewer was able to fully understand and appreciate the book. I especially recommend the book to middle schoolers (Lahni is 14), but also high school students, adults, and singers of all ages (well older than 11)! Check out the author's website here I want to read Sunday You Learn How to Box by him as well.

Have a great weekend!


  1. I have been meaning to pick this one up for a while. This book seems like it would relate to my experiences growing up. Although I was not adopted by white parents, I grew up in an all white neighborhood, I was a singer, and the list just goes on.

    Glad to hear you liked it!

    And cool tidbit about the Titanic.

  2. This was a great review and this sounds like a really good book! I totally understand what you're saying about having white friends and being the only black person around sometimes. I'm so glad you'll be doing Throwback Thursday. I really like the idea of a Male Monday meme. (Yes! alliteration) and I know Kiki will LOVE it. She loves reading books with male narrators/authors.


  3. haha I love alliteration. i'm a cool dork :P
    I definitely recommend it, especially based on both of your experiences, Tashi and Shalonda.

  4. Great post. I like the QP cover better. Thanks for the titanic fact. Looking forward to seeing what you thought of The Exorsistah, one of my co-workers read it.

  5. You know I was a Titanic freak for awhile there (back when they found it) I read tons of books on it and met a guy who worked with the crew who discovered it and all that. I'm a big history geek so yeah...why don't we know about this? I had no clue there was a Haitian man on the ship - no idea at all.

    I swear, there's so much history we never know. It drives me nuts.

    PS. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on Flygirl; I really really liked it.

  6. Doret which one is the QP cover?
    Colleen I love history too and I'm really annoyed that as much as people talk about the Titanic, why didn't we know this?

  7. This book sounds interesting. I like stories where music plays an important role. And it's a good sign that you could "hear" the music in the story!

    And OMG, I *knew* you were half Latina. Isn't that weird? I just had a feeling! And for a while I wondered if you were half Filipina. Since Latina skin and Filipina skin are very similar. :o)

  8. Thanks for this review. I will definitely get this book. Love your blog.

  9. Tarie thts so crazy cool! Actually my last name is a common name in the Philippines. :0
    thanks Mitali. I really like your books!

  10. I just finished this book and loved it! My review will be up later this week. My first by him but definitely not my last. My copy has the butterflies on the cover, but I'll be using the other one on my review because I like it better. The butterfly one is nicely done, too.

    Flygirl was probably one of my best YA reads this year, I'll check back to see what you think of it.

  11. I liked your review a lot.I had to read this book for the summer and didn't expect to like it but I loved it.I'm not black at all and couldn't relate much but I still loved it!and i read some other reviews for this book and a lot of them were negative i'm glad that your's wasn't.


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