Today’s spotlight features award winning author, Joan Steinau Lester’s YA novel, Black, White and Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong.
About the Book
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.
What Critics and Others Are Saying
“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
About the Author
Joan Steinau Lester, Ed.D. the award-winning commentator, columnist, and author of four critically praised books, is also a freelance editor.
A Bellwether Prize Finalist, Arts & Letters Creative Nonfiction Finalist, and NLGJA Seigenthaler Award winner, her writing has appeared in the Alaska Quarterly Review, Essence, USA Today, LA Times, SF Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, NY Times Syndicate: New American Voices, Huffington Post, Black Issues in Education, and Common Dreams. Her commentaries regularly air on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” San Francisco’s KQED “Perspectives,” and Public Radio International’s “Marketplace.”
She is the author of the acclaimed biography ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON: FIRE IN MY SOUL, as well as THE FUTURE OF WHITE MEN And Other Diversity Dilemmas and TAKING CHARGE: Every Woman’s Action Guide.
BLACK, WHITE, OTHER: The Search for Nina Armstrong, her first novel, garnered starred reviews and her second, MAMA’S CHILD, has just been released to critical acclaim.
After receiving her doctorate in multicultural education, Dr. Lester was Executive Director of the Equity Institute for sixteen years. This national nonprofit firm, first based in Amherst and then Emeryville, California, pioneered the diversity wave of the ’80s and ’90s. She continues as a member of its successor, the Equity Consulting Group.
Lester’s books have earned praise from print media like Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Review, Ms, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press, The San Francisco Chronicle, Executive Female, American Personnel Journal, Belles Lettres, Black Issues Book Review, and the American Society of Trainers and Developers. Her books are in wide use as college texts and corporate handbooks.
Her numerous recognitions include the NLGJA Siegenthaler Award for commentary on National Public Radio. The San Francisco’s Women’s Heritage Museum nominated TAKING CHARGE as a Best Women’s Book; Amazon.com named TAKING CHARGE one of its “10 BEST BUSINESS BOOKS FOR WOMEN” and The Washington Post singled out FIRE IN MY SOUL for its top-listed, recommended books, “What Washingtonians are reading.”
Dr. Lester is quoted as an expert by print media from The New York Times to Woman’s World. Her published work has been excerpted in publications as varied as Essence, Executive Female, legal journals, and books on diversity. She has been a guest expert on Donahue, CNN, Caryl & Marilyn Show, G. Gordon Liddy, and SkyRadio, as well as hundreds of other radio and television programs. FIRE IN MY SOUL was featured on Terry Gross’ top-rated “Fresh Air” Program.
A member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Dr. Lester lives in Northern California and enjoys the full-time writing life she long envisioned.
Have you had a chance to read this one?