La Vie Blues

ISBN: 2070552071
ISBN 13: 9782070552078
By: Han Nolan

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About this book

Despite her natural talent for singing, 6-year-old Janie knows deep in her heart that if you really want to sing and feel the blues, you gotta be black. Aren't the tapes of the "ladies"--Aretha, Etta, and Billie--that she listens to every night in the stinking basement of her first foster home proof enough of that? So the scrawny, blond-haired, blue-eyed child of a heroin addict changes her name to Leshaya, decides that her unknown father was African American, and shuts down all feeling; only allowing the sorrow of her hard life to escape when she opens her mouth to sing. Raised by addicts and drug dealers, Leshaya trusts no one and loves nothing except her music: "Didn't need nobody else. I could make love to my own self with that sound ridin' the beat." Finally, after surviving several foster homes, a harrowing heroin withdrawal, and an unwanted pregnancy, 16-year-old Leshaya finds a band and ends up with a single on the radio. But can even that be enough for a girl so hungry for love that she looks everywhere for it except the one place she's sure to find it--within herself?

Reader's Thoughts


Born Blue, by Han Nolan, is a young adult novel about a girl in foster care. It follows the story of her growing up, interweaving the importance of music in her life. The girl, Leshaya, has a troubled youth and adolescence. She is ill-behaved, stubborn, hateful, and completely lonely. She finds that the only good part of her life is music. It fills the spaces that were left in her soul when her mother abandoned her, when her foster brother was taken away, and when she found one day that there was no one in the world that she loved. Born Blue is a soulful tale of a girl with a prickly, spitfire personality, but a heart that falls deeply in love with what is good. This book left me feeling emotionally drained, but content. When I finished, I felt as though I were coming home at last from an arduous journey. This book is recommended for for people who may see themselves in Leshaya. We are able to learn a great deal about the consequences of decisions she makes. If you like a heavy, soul-searching read, then this book is definitely for you.


Born BlueBy Han Nolan277 pp.Orlando, FloridaHarcourt Inc. $6.95ISBN- 0-15-204697-6Born Blue by Han Nolan is an inspirational book because of the growth and strength a girl builds with the lack of family and stability. Her actions are clearly stated and foster teenagers can relate to her. This book portrays the developing years from a child to young adult of a Caucasian girl bouncing around from place to place. Until she ends up with the woman that left her in the beginning – her mother. You never want to put it down because each chapter has an adventure in store. This novel is realistic and does not have a happily ever after as some books do in the case that this girl is in. It's hard to imagine a teenage girl experiencing what 21 year olds might have not even experienced. At such a young age, she experiences from giving birth to witnessing a man's death. If you love drama, you should be on your way to the library, looking through the drama section for this one. Han Nolan does an excellent job of writing in first person as Leshaya herself. Since Leshaya was born and from the south of the United States, her language is different. It was hard at first and it took some time to get used to all the “in's” and improper grammar. I remember... “Nothin' else in the world would matter if I could sing and people would listen. Ain't nothin' else in the world like singin'.” I found it normal to read the rest of this 277 paged book once I got used to the style. If you are a member of the 'grammar police' than maybe this book wouldn't exactly fit your bookshelf. The drama is never ending in this book, with all the different themes. Ranging from the fact that her mother sold her for drugs -- to her letting what ever male she wants, having sexual intercourse with her. But it makes you think in general, Is it really worth selling something so precious and delicate – your own blood for the pleasure that only lasts a few hours? You can't blame Leshaya for acting the way she did, not having any sort of role-model. I remember my jaw literally dropping when I read that she was pregnant. It's hard picturing myself being pregnant right now, since Leshaya was just around my age. I made it clear in my mind not to make the same mistake as she did. But it didn't seem like a mistake for her... The consideration of how realistic this book is and it happens to people, even in these times, captivates me. Taking drugs, drinking alcohol, concerts, parties, sex, pregnancy, no adults taking care of her – all at such a young age. It's amazing. And sad of course, but it happens to certain teenagers out there. Not at a point in their age or life where they know whats right or wrong, good or bad for them. Leshaya's strength can undeniably be considered as well. I try portraying myself in her place and I don't even think I can last till the fifth chapter. I haven't read a book filled with so much drama and events as Born Blue, published in 2001, in a long time. It was interesting to see what a girl my age is capable of doing. Teenagers should particularly have interest in this book, no doubt. With a pinch of southern aura and the captivating words a young women uses to open up her mind, heart and soul, Born Blue will forever be a part of you.


I keep thinking Leshaya's black! But so far at page 141, I'm enjoying the book. Leshaya's insecurities and lack of maturity is starting to annoy me a little.I might be slow, but maybe why Janie decided to change her name to Leshaya was because she didn't like who she was. Her identity. Maybe that's why she keeps ruining things for people. But boy, is she selfish.Leshaya makes me think of a girl that is trying so hard to make herself happy(?) that she lies to herself and makes her beliefs come true. (To me it's like how Christians belive in God, ahem.) Like how she wants to be African American so bad, that even when the truth is in her face, she just continues to make believe and pretend she's African American anyway.It's quite sad, especially about the Paul thing. I thought finally everything will be okay. I cried when Leshaya sang to her mother, the song she created because of her. Honestly the book was just quite sad. Even the ending. She did what was best for her child, even if she couldn't be with her. I really wished she left the Jameses things at the front porch though, to let them know she's better now, that she's no longer the immature, messed up Leshaya.

Manny Mendoza

Born Blue was a bit of an odd book but somewhat interesting for me. It is about a girl who lives with a family that is not her real family, she loves laying on the floor and listening to old music. She doesn't know her mother that well because she is a drug addict. Her real mom hires Two people to adopt her and take care of her so her mom can see her more. This book was a bit tough to follow because a lot of things happened at once and the author jumped around a lot. But its unique plot definitely got me hooked and kept me reading, I always wanted to know who or what situation she was going to run into next. The vocabulary was definitely a bit tough for me and there were a lot of words on each page so it took me a while to read. Overall the book was odd but definitely unique. I would recommend this book that likes books that have plots that get you thinking and confuse you.


Reading this book reminded me of my troubled students. One thing for sure, parents make all the difference. I can tell lots of stories about my silver-spoon-fed students - those whose parents told them they don't have to worry about money the rest of their lives - and they are no different with Janie/Leshaya of this story. Janie grew up in foster care; her mother gave her up to an abusive foster parents. From the beginning there's always been someone who still cared for her, like Doris, the social worker who's assigned to check up on her from time to time. She's got a best friend in Harmon, who introduced her to 'the ladies' - the jazz greats Etta, Aretha, Odetta, Roberta - and made her sing. She could hit the right notes since she was little and people were struck by her youth when they turned around and see who sang.However, life hadn't spared her from bad parenting. The whole story took the readers to the downward spiral of Janie, reinventing herself into Leshaya, from an innocent 9 year-old kidnapped by a pair of drug dealers (her mom traded her for heroin) to a 13 year-old club singer who gave away her own daughter. At times people actually cared for her, but it had always been hard to trust people due to her upbringing, she ended up 'burning bridges' and either ran away or had herself kicked out.Some reviewers wondered how Leshaya failed to appreciate all the cares she received, but after spending time with middle-schoolers, I know that children has to be both taught and nurtured, and even when they thought they know everything about the world, they do not. Also, you cannot make a difference in someone's life unless you are willing to sacrifice yourself. It takes a long time for people to turn away from bad influences, especially when you've known these things growing up. Being a teacher means seeing a lot of different kids come and go. By the time kids reach middle school, they come with a lot of baggage, be it good or bad. I've been a teacher for almost 3 years, and sometimes I regret the way I acted toward some of my troubled kids, now going on to higher grades. Some kids have came up to me and acknowledged how my discipline have helped them in high school, but most just stayed their old same selves and made me wonder, if only I got to be their parents, I'd probably manage to change their bad habits. This book opened my eyes wider about being a good influence to people around you who need help. Sometimes you think you don't make any difference by helping someone in trouble, but as long as you do it because it's right, you've touched that person's life and maybe, just maybe, someday they'll appreciate it and touch other people's life because of you.Lastly, a word about the way this novel's written - it'd remind you of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' where the writer uses spelling and wording commonly found in the South, so please don't judge the book by its writing! And the way she ends the story, while it may exasperates some readers, I think it's a good way to end so we know that either way, Janie realized how this one decision may change the course of her daughter's life.


Born Blue is a really great book because it is about the reality of being homeless.This a situation that some people have to face everyday that i never understood until now.You get to know the main character Leshaya really good,you almost feel like know her personally.She has a special talent for singing and has a dream to someday be a famous singer.Her story is touching and meaningful.


** spoiler alert ** Born Blue By Han Nolan was really great because of all this girl went through like almost being drowned my her mom at four and then her mama being on herion. Also living with patsy and pete they treated Leysha and Harmon which was Leshyas best friend like they were pretty much dirt. And after everything she went through which Im not gonna tell you everything she still seems okay in the end but not gonna give that away either you will just have to read it to find out

Jennifer Jederberg

A very indeaf book. you will never loose your consintration....cause i didn't....and in away it relates to our everyday life...only its more intense and theres more detail.This story is about a troubled young girl, named Janie, but She later changes her name to leshaya. In this novel, you will see how this young woman overcomes her obstacles and never gives up on her dreams. At only 4 years old, Janie is taken from her mother Linda and put into Foster care. I believe, since she told us this first, this event was her most significant memory and the beggining of her major troubles. She begins her story, by describing her very first memory. She fought through the water and thinks her mother is going to mad at her. At one point she thinks she is dead, but screams anyway, for her mother, who never came. She awoke in a dark room surrounded by strangers, and begs to see her mother. All she was told, was her mom was sick and is going to get help. She was sent to live with Patsy and Pete, her new foster parents. She desperatly wanted to be with her mother. When she finally saw her mom again, she begged and cried to live with her again. All her mother said was, " No you can't, Im sick again. Before I tell the whole story and spoil it for you, I will only tell a few more important parts. Well as I began to write this I told you, the narrators use of childrens language, such as the at the beggining she says " He cracked a bit of a smile, so I could see his lower teeth and they was kinda crooked. Janie also shows her immaturity. I thought about this and she was only four when her mother died, that is near the age children can speak sentenses. I wondered if she was educated, after the age of four. This make not make any sense to you, but it does to me. If that was the start of her pain and troubles, was it also the end of her caring about an education. When I lost my grandmother to cancer, what I used to find a top priority iun my life, ment nothing to me anymore. I gave up for a little while, maybe she did too? Though her mother is not diseased, she is from her life. Another part I found to be important in this novel, is she finds her most happiness in music. She dreams of one day being a famous singer. She knew the odds of living her dream were against her most of the time, but she refuses to give up on them. Her other happiness was the attention she had always craved, which she found in Harmon. Harmon was true friend, and the only good thing about with Patsy and Pete. Harmon is a black guy, witha tall and beefy figure. I found it to also be important that she fell in love with him. I found it amazing that when she decribes him, she throws out the fact that hes black and describes him to us saying "He got the friendliest face I ever seen in a person, too, witha bigsmile so fullof goodwill it could melt anybody's heart." This shows me, that Janie dosnt care about color what others say. Also she loves people for them and what what they have, not what they dont have. So does she live her dream in them end? Whell you have to read and find out, Ive told to much


Born Blue is a very inspirational book. This book inspired me to not give up on my dream no matter what bumps in life may come up, but as long as you stay on track and focus on what you need to be successful. While reading the emotions I felt were disappointment and excitement. I felt very disappointed when Janie broke her promise with Paul. Paul told Janie to stay clean if she wanted to live with him and for along time she keeps it. After hooking up with Paul’s friend one night she broke her promise and it ended badly. I felt excited when Janie was doing well in the music industry and when she was staying clean. The number one thing that kept me reading this book was to see what decisions Janie would continue making through out her life. If she really would do what she was meant to do or if she was going to let drugs take over her life. One of my favorite characters in the book is a woman named Doris. Doris was a social worker who was in her forty’s that came to check up on Janie and Harmon every so often. She would take them to church with her and also take them out for ice cream. She also gave Janie a chance to spend more time with her mother. My least favorite character is her foster parents Patsy and Pete. I wasn’t to found of how they treated her when she was living with them. I think that the author’s intention of writing Born Blue was to show that you shouldn’t let anything stop you from achieving your dream. I also think she was trying to show people how drugs can ruin some ones life. People I would recommend this book to is anyone that thinks they couldn’t make being famous. Also to any one that is doing drugs that but has a dream they want to accomplish. They main thingg that captured my attention in this book is when she got pregnant when she was very young. She wasn’t sure who the father was or how she was going to take care of the baby. When she took off with the baby to find her a good home so that she wouldn’t have to go through everything Janie went through. One of my favorite lines in the book is when Janie says “its time to face the truth of that. Alls I be is a wigga. I got no black in me ‘cept what I put there my own self. Etta, she got it all…only way she gonna feel lost in her life be if I take her. (Han Nolan, 276).” This shows me that Janie really does want her daughter to have a good life and she doesn’t want to take that away from her. In this book I thought I would be able to predict the end, but once you read it turns out the complete opposite way you thought it would.

Lisa James

This is in the YA category. Ultimately, it's rather sad because the ending leaves you hanging & you never know if Jane/Leshaya cleans up her act, & grows up to realize her dream of being a jazz/R & B singer, or whether she gets back on the drug merry go round she's been on. Given what she's already been through, her mother a heroin addict who had her removed & sent to a bad foster home, then kidnapped from the foster home by her mother on an unannounced visit & in essence, traded to her drug dealers for a free supply of her fix, where she was taken better care of then she was at the foster home, but ran away from when the couple was arrested for dealing & sent to prison, etc. She proved she could survive, & we are left hoping that through it all, she learned some lessons about herself that would make her a better person.


Ashly,Benjy, Daniella, In Borm Blue by Han Nolan, Janie,the main character, finds out she was pregnant which was a challenge she had to face. Also when Janie found out her mother, Mama Linda, was a drug addict when she gave her up for heroin. Lastly, Mrs.Trane, the lady who cared for Mama Linda, gave Janie some liberal advice to take and to break the cycle and to not be like her mother. Also how she should go get her daughter, Etta, and take care of her.Born Blue is a great book that we were glad to read it. We liked three main parts of the book Born Blue. Ashly, Daniella, and I like when Leshaya listened to Mrs. Trane's advice and took it into consideration. Leshaya remembering Mrs. Trane's advice and left the baby with a good family is another good family is another good event we liked, and finally, Leshaya and Harmon's relationship.The book Born Blue is also a annoying book. When Leshaya always takes about her personal things. We all dislike Leshaya's stupidity. Sometimes her lifestyles choices and when she had her baby and left it with Harmon. Over all we don't like Leshaya's choices.In Born Blue by Han Nolan, the beginning of the book Janie was at Pat and Pete's foster home. Then she was taken to Mama Shell and Daddy Mitch by her mom. After that she stayed Mr. and Mrs. James and Harmon, friend from foster home, when she did not have anywhere to go. When she left the James, she stayed with Paul, guitarist in the new band, for awhile. Through out the book the mood was a little upsetting. Janie was a little all over the place with her grammar. When she spoke it she really did not make much sense.


Janie, aka Leshaya, is a survivor; it is not as if she has any choice in the matter, since life keeps dealing her knockout blows. Born to a heroin-addicted mother, her childhood is spent in foster homes, passed around from person to person, few of whom take time to parent her. Her only salvation is music, for when she opens her mouth to sing, then and only then does Janie feel alive. Yet she looks everywhere for love: in food, in drugs, and always, always, falling in with the wrong man. Her mother kidnaps her, sells her for drugs, and yet somehow Janie keeps pushing on, sure that this is merely the hard road she must travel in order to find success. The book is told in first person with a heavy urban dialect. A tale of survival as gritty and harsh as any set in the wilderness.


When I first started reading this book, I thought 'Oh no, it's written in dialect.' However, Nolan has created such a real character in Janie/LeShaya that I stopped noticing almost right away. This is a painful read. I have known kids like her, in my teaching life, in my personal life. When children are not loved and cared for by their parents, when they linger in less than ideal foster homes and age beyond adoptability, something's broken. Some reviewers have found LeShaya's endless bad choices to be unbelievable. They are very true to life. When you have always had a home, it can be hard to imagine what it's like to be home-less and parent-less and to have never had any reason to learn to trust. How can you be a real friend, how can you love someone well, when no one has ever looked after your needs? How can you accept loving care when experience tells you there are nasty strings attached? How can you make good choices when you've had no example? Every child deserves so much more.


Born Blue Review Some people don’t always have the easy, relaxed life. Not knowing your own father, always moving from home to home, and experiencing things a normal teenager never should. But this happens to be reality for some people.Take a journey through this tough lifestyle. It’s not a walk in the park. You can literally feel your gut wrench, not knowing what's going to be the end result. I’m not a bookworm by any means, but I was for this book! My hands were super glued to Born Blue, I just couldn’t put it down even if I wanted to. I guarantee anybody who reads this will fly right through it. This book is always going from one horrible situation to another. Let me tell you, you won’t even have time to blink! Get ready to ride the rollercoaster of emotions. 3..2..1.. blastoff! The main character Janie, who changes her name to Leshaya has a bold personality from early on. Singing is her passion, and no matter what that will never change. She said, “ I sung, and everything just felt alright again.” She has loved the attention since the day she was born. She grew up with Harmon in a foster home, and he is the only one in her life that really cares about her. Her mom has never been there in Leshaya’s life, she was always more interested in drugs than her own daughter. So after going from one foster home to another she goes and lives with a jazz band and believes she is living this glorious life. In her young troubled eyes, she has got it all. As if her life wasn’t already tough enough, tables took a turn for the worst. An average 13 year old girl is in middle school, hanging out with friends, and having a safe and normal life. But not Leshaya. She gets pregnant. But if she never knew better is she really the one to blame? The voice the author uses for Leshaya is very strong and stands out. The author writes the exact way that Leshaya would be talking. She does not speak correctly or use correct grammar, because she is not a tad educated. So she leaves off the g’s at the end of words. For example, talkin’ or sayin’.When you're reading like this you imagine her with an accent, which for me put me more into the story. If the author had not written like this and had Leshaya speak like that, the book would not be nearly as good as it is. This book is like a 4th of July fireworks show. Entertaining the whole way through never losing the excitement, and always keeping you interested, and the finale ends with a big, huge BANG! You will be on the edge of your seat while finishing. This book is amazing and will blow your mind into a hundred million pieces!

Maricarmen V

I liked this book very much because it had so much deatil. Born blue was full of suspense, I'd always want to keep reading and reading. Leshaya was a fansinating character, and the life she had simply astonished me. She went through so many hard times, so many times where she needed someone but there wasn't anyone there. She truely had to go on her own, survive all on her own and at such a young age.

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