Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When the Black Girl Sings

Adolescence is difficult for most teens, but Lahni Schuler is in a unique situation. Lahni, who is African American, was adopted in infancy by a Caucasian couple. Lahni is the only African-American girl in her exclusive prep school. Gifted with a singing voice, but shy and self-conscious, Lahni is roped into a vocal competition at her school.

Her parents' separation throws another whirl into her life; looking for comfort and for a multicultural environment, Lahni and her mother seek out a welcoming congregation. Lahni is bedazzled by the impressive gospel choir and wins the approval of the choir director and the lead soprano. Lahni's choir debut is sensational; with her love of singing and performing growing, Lahni finds new enthusiasm (and dread) in the school competition.

When the Black Girl Sings is an engrossing read of a determined yet confused teenager who finds comfort and confidence in a positive outlet. The relationships between Lahni and the adults in her life are drawn in a realistic and positive light (save for some differences with her father, which are completely understandable given the context). While the outcome is predictable, it's a welcome and satisfying conclusion to an excellent read.

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