As a biracial teen, Nina is accustomed to a life of varied hues—mocha-colored skin, ringed brown hair streaked with red, a black father, a white mother. When her parents decide to divorce, the rainbow of Nina’s existence is reduced to a much starker reality. Shifting definitions and relationships are playing out all around her, and new boxes and lines seem to be drawn every day.
Between the fractures within her family and the racial tensions splintering her hometown, Nina feels caught in perpetual battle. Stranded in a nowhere land of ethnic boundaries, and struggling for personal independence and identity, Nina turns to the story of her great-great-grandmother’s escape from slavery in hopes of finding her own compass to help navigate the challenges before her.
"Lester conjures a credible plot and complications; divorce is a fact of life and racially mixed heritage is conspicuously becoming one. The simple contrapuntal narrative of Sarah Armstrong's escaping slavery distinguishes the book emotionally and psychologically, raising it above other issue-oriented Young Adult novels. Lester writes with social sensitivity and an ear for teen language and concerns. This is engaging treatment of a challenging subject that comes with little precedent." * -- Starred Publishers Weekly Review
"The tenderness and truth of your book moved my heart. As well as the enormous love you have." -- Alice Walker
"Teens will be caught by the alternating stories, and yes, by the messages about...prejudice, then and now, which will make for great group discussion." -- Booklist
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Joan Steinau Lester, Ed.D., is the author of three previous books, the most recent Mama’s Child, as well as Fire in My Soul, a civil rights biography of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Her first YA novel, Black, White, Other, was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize. The former Executive Director of the Equity Institute, a national diversity consulting firm, she is also a frequent NPR commentator and print columnist.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
BLACK, WHITE, OTHER In Search of Nina Armstrong By Joan Steinau Lester Fifteen year old Nina Armstrong's world is all topsy turvy. Her parents are no longer together. She lives with her mother who's white and her brother Jimi lives with their father who's black. Suddenly Nina's friends are trying to make her choose who she'll be friends with. Will she choose black or will she choose white? Who will she identify with? Or will she do as Saundra told her and embrace her otherness and live with everyone? As Nina discovers her great-great grandmother Sarah Armstrong, through her father's research, will she discover herself as well? At 15 Sarah, whose own family was shattered by slavery, makes an escape to freedom, will she help Nina break the bonds of fear. Black, White, Other is an engaging read that would be beneficial to most teens. As Nina learns the truth about herself she takes readers on a journey of self-discovery. Are you only the skin you are born in? Or is your true self hidden beneath waiting from you to discover it? At the end of Black, White, Other there are discussion questions, a follow-up actions section, a glossary of terms, and a list of sources. As Nina's mother said race is "not real" we are all one race, the human race! Advanced Reader Copy provided by Z Street Team reviews
This novel by Dr. Joan Steinau Lester is appropriate for both teens and adults. She weaves a contemporary story about a biracial fifteen year old girl--Nina Armstrong--around an historical tale: Nina's then-fifteen year old great-great-grandmother, Sarah Armstrong. The two stories parallel each other beautifully, as both teens face troubles--Sarah's much more severe in 1853 Hanover County, Virginia, where she is enslaved on a tobacco plantation before she flees north. Nina, who is on a tough journey of identity ("Who am I? Black, white, or other?") finds inspiration in the story of her ancestor. I cried when I came to resolution of both stories. This is both great storytelling and fabulous inspiration about finding one's own path through life, no matter one's challenges. Nina comes out with some creative solutions and an expanded sense of the possibilities for her to lead "a big life," as an adult mentor promises her. Could not recommend more highly.
As y’all know (or if you don’t, feel free to check out this series!), I’m always looking for diverse stories to read and highlight. Recently Blink YA released three young adult novels and I snagged them right up! I’ll have reviews of the other two this month as well, but Joan Steinau Lester’s is an excellent one to share about first! I thought this book was an excellent read. While no two people’s experiences are the same, I thought Lester created an inviting story to talk about being biracial in America and search for identity. I really liked what she did with the story, from Nina’s own story to her great great grandmother’s experience. It’s authentic and tugs at your heart as you read this journey of self discovery and while fiction, the character’s experience are what many deal with today. While it would have been easy to get frustrated with a teen making decisions adults wouldn’t make, I think it made it more real. Going through high school, having a major life change (her parent’s divorce) and having to really take a look at yourself for the first time wouldn’t be easy. I appreciated the realistic approach. A quick, engaging and insightful read, I recommend this to people interested in learning more about race in America, but also for people who enjoy stories of discovery and finding ourselves. What’s a recent read you’ve enjoyed? (Thank you to Blink YA for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)
"...I find three whole chapters of MISS SARAH ARMSTRONG: ON THE RUN. Sarah, who might actually be the only person on the planet I can relate to. The only problem: she's dead." Nina's black father and white mother have decided to divorce, a racial uproar is spreading through Nina's hometown, and it seems her fellow teenaged classmates and friends are now dividing everything along color lines. Seeking direction, Nina turns to the story of her great-great-grandmother's escape from slavery in Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by author Joan Steinau Lester. What a story this is about family and friendship, injustice and unrest, slavery and freedom, legacy and identity. I'll admit that Nina got a few head shakes from me, when she'd slip into bratty, know-it-all, disrespectful mode, even when only in her head. And I don't automatically shrug that stuff off just because a character is a teenager in a YA novel. But I didn't find her too unbearable to read about, particularly during her moments of protectiveness and dry humor. Besides, the lessons she learns are more than worth it. Along with my head shakes came nods of appreciation for different points raised in the story, including how so many of us (no matter our "color") are really more mixed than we know, and about how slavery is *not* merely something that happened back in the past, in one country. Whether you're an inspirational fiction fan or not, a young adult fiction fan or not, I'd recommend this as a worthwhile and moving read. "But a part of me argues back, telling me that just because things aren't perfect or easy or right, it doesn't mean God's not here."
It's a great book to do a essay on beause of the problem in the book