Joyce Carol Thomas
When the Nightingale Sings
a novel for young adults

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Marigold is troubled by the mystery of her birth. Found as a newborn baby in a southern swamp, she is raised to do the housekeeping around the ramshackle cottage where she lives with a mean woman named Ruby and Ruby's bickering twin daughters. Marigold's only happy moments are the stolen ones she spends writing songs and poems and singing them from the heart, out in the swamp where nobody will hear her. One day, unbeknownst to Marigold, somebody does hear.
When the invitation arrives calling all singing women to the Great Gospel Convention, Marigold is determined to get there, against Ruby's powerful will. Marigold knows she has a history to learn, a family to find, a song to sing. And it will take the power of a hurricane, the revelations of a dream, and the love of one special boy to carry Marigold to her destiny.
National Book Award winner Joyce Carol Thomas's lyrical tale is a gospel-Cinderella story that will touch anyone who ever needed to find a place in the world.
excerpts from When the Nightingale Sings:
page 60

But when Melissa took the lead, she sang almost seductively. You had to have sharp ears to hear the hint of just a little too much sweetness, and as she was singing she was also looking over at Sweet Jimmy.

There's a man in my life

He's the sweetest savior I know

Good Lord I love him so

He's my friend in deed

He's everything I need

There's a man in my life

After all three had sung the final chorus, the audience applauded as the singers exited behind the curtain. About a minute later a loud commotion could be heard breaking out behind the curtain, upstaging Regina Redfield and Her Daughters, who were standing at the microphone with their mouths open.

In the back, the three sisters continued raising Cain. Ruby Lee said, "Aha! Just as I thought. Get your hands off my husband. I saw you back yonder making eyes at each other. My own sister!"

"Just a friendly little kiss," said Melissa.

"A little too friendly," said Ruby Lee.

page 94

"I'm willing," said Marigold.

"You must believe," said the Nightingale, "that you have the song within your heart. You must believe with all the belief you can muster; you must believe that you can sing it all, not some. And when you start to sing, you must sing from your heart and trust that the song will come."

"I don't know," said Marigold, a little hesitantly.

"Another thing, I just remembered," continued the Nightingale, encouraging her. "While you sing from your heart, a nightingale must sing from his heart to yours. You see, the music and the lyrics of our heart's song go to the darkest regions of the deepest parts of our soul. If we don't let it out enough, sometimes it can't find its way back. But when the nightingale sings the right song to your heart, a clear path is lit for the song to return."

Marigold started to sing slowly, trying hard to believe, while the Nightingale whispered in her right ear (the oppressed ear) and then later in her left ear, alternating as Marigold continued to sing.

Text © 1992 Joyce Carol Thomas. Cover © 1992 HarperCollins Publishers.
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