Lauck, Jennifer 1964-

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Lauck, Jennifer 1964-


Born 1964; daughter of Janet Ferrel; married twice; children: (second marriage) Spencer (son), and a daughter. Education: Montana State University, earned degree in journalism.


Agent—c/o Atria Publicity, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.


Freelance writer. Worked as a reporter for the Montana Television Network, for KXLY-TV, Spokane, WA, and for a year in Great Falls, MT; television producer in Portland, OR, for two years; freelance publicist; founded a public relations company in Portland.


Two Society of Professional Journalists awards.


Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found (memoir), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Still Waters (memoir; sequel to Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Show Me the Way: A Memoir in Stories, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2004.


A sound recording was made of Still Waters, Simon & Schuster Audio, 2001.


After studying journalism at Montana State University, Jennifer Lauck worked as a television journalist and producer for years. However, Lauck became tired of long hours of working nights, weekends, and holidays, so she began her own public relations business in Portland, Oregon. This still did not satisfy her, however. Having endured a troubled childhood, she felt the need to write her story. The result was published as Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found.

Blackbird recounts how, when Lauck was five, her mother became seriously ill, and although Lauck was very young, she became her mother's nurse. Meanwhile, her father began working more and more, and after Lauck's mother died when she was seven, her father immediately married a new wife, Deb. However, he died when Lauck was ten, and she and her brother were left with Deb, who was a member of a rigid group called the Freedom Community Church. Deb was not interested in her stepchildren, but she enjoyed having custody of them because they received social security checks. She sent Lauck to a summer camp, where she was tormented for not knowing how to swim, made to do manual labor, and molested by a counselor. Eventually, Lauck was sent to a church commune, where she had to pay for her keep by doing chores. In the end, she was saved by relatives. In School Library Journal, Francisca Goldsmith wrote that the book is "a compelling read as character study, cultural history, and family investigation." A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote: "Fans of emotionally powerful books … will find this memoir very satisfying," while a Newsweek writer called the book "a standout debut in the crowded memoir genre."

Still Waters, the sequel to Blackbird, continues Lauck's story, beginning when she is twelve and continuing through her stints with various relatives. It documents her brother's suicide, her coming of age, her years in college, and her unfortunate first marriage. The story moves on to her spiritual awakening, a happy second marriage, and the birth of her son. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "Lauck's voice successfully blends the tragic-turned-triumphant heroine with the everywoman."

In her third book, Show Me the Way: A Memoir in Stories, Lauck satisfies her need to return to her writing by revisiting her past with its attendant traumas and by drawing parallels between events of years ago and her current situation. Her focus, however, is on the present. She explores motherhood, recounting the premature birth of her son and his reaction to the birth of her daughter, and considers how a parent's past affects the life of a child. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that Lauck "does not invoke pity; she does, however, command respect and provide inspiration as she honestly continues to teach herself how to be a mother."



Booklist, September 15, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found, p. 213; April 15, 2004, Deborah Donovan, review of Show Me the Way: A Memoir in Stories, p. 1410.

Harper's Bazaar, October, 2000, Melanie Rehak, review of Blackbird, p. 234.

Library Journal, April 15, 2004, Mirela Roncevic, review of Show Me the Way, p. 110.

Newsweek, September 4, 2000, review of Blackbird, p. 58.

New York Times Book Review, December 31, 2000, Jodi Kantor, review of Blackbird, p. 22.

Publishers Weekly, September 25, 2000, review of Blackbird, p. 101; September 24, 2001, review of Still Waters, p. 85; March 22, 2004, review of Show Me the Way, p. 76.

School Library Journal, May, 2001, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Blackbird, p. 177.

Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2000, Bella Standler, review of Blackbird, p. W10.


Jennifer Lauck Home Page, (May 17, 2006).