BLACK, WHITE, OTHER: In Search of Nina Armstrong
"The simple contrapuntal narrative of Sarah Armstrong's escaping slavery distinguishes the book emotionally and psychologically...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
Since her parents’ jarring divorce, California teen Nina has felt split into two—two homes and two cultures. She and her brother, Jimi, live with different parents, further jarring Nina and leaving her feeling alone and confused. And due to racial tensions brought up by an event in nearby Oakland, kids at Nina’s school are relentless about making her feel like she has to choose sides—black or white. Compounding matters, Nina’s mother doesn’t seem to understand the connection Nina is beginning to feel with her great-great-grandmother Sarah, a woman who escaped slavery and whom her father is bringing to life in a manuscript. In fact, as Nina’s old, safe world falls away, the voice of Sarah is often the only thing that feels real.
So where does that leave Nina? Caught in the middle. She finds herself somewhere in the middle of a bitter breakup, an unsure adolescence, and never on the inside of a crowd no matter what their race. Nina lacks a sense of belonging in any area of her life.
With her brother off trying to find his own way to cope with the situation, and feeling so far away from all those around her, to whom can Nina turn? At this most critical time in her life, she makes a decision that takes her on an unintended journey through San Francisco and closer to the truths she’s been seeking. Only then is Nina able to embrace her uniqueness without waiting for others to decide for her. Relying on the faith she has in herself and those who marched to the same drum before her, as well as the still voice nagging at her from Sarah’s tale, Nina begins to reclaim what is most important in her life and helps those close to her do the same.
Dr. Lester tells the very personal story of BLACK, WHITE, OTHER from the heart. Her ability to capture the sensitive voice of a young girl trapped between two worlds is remarkable. Weaving an honest story for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider, Dr. Lester gives readers a peek into this challenging world. She offers teens and others the comfort of knowing they’re not alone, and the strength to see them through any adversity.
"Joan Lester knows how to get inside a girl's head. Nina feels like someone you know or really want to know. Readers will cheer her on as she faces the fundamental questions of who she is and who she wants to be." - Marissa Moss, author of the bestselling Amelia's Notebook series
"Teens will be caught by the alternating stories, and yes, by the messages about the cruel cliques and prejudice, then and now, which will make for great group discussion." - Booklist
To schedule an interview with Dr. Lester, to receive a review copy, or for more information on BLACK, WHITE, OTHER, please contact Candice Frederick at DJC Communications at 212-907-0024 or firstname.lastname@example.org.