Civil Rights-era novel, Foreword by Pulitzer Prise-winning Alice Walker.
"An astonishing accomplishment. The most passionate, the most honest and brave of books...riveting art."

"I read MAMA'S CHILD by Joan Steinau Lester in one day. It was that gripping and enticing, a tale about identity, race, denial and fealty...It definitely resonated." Literanista Blog

Already a book club favorite, Mama's Child is being read in clubs from Boise and Detroit to Goodreads and the coasts.


1. Who was your favorite character?
Did you see this character change during the course of the novel?

2. Who was your least favorite character?
Did you see this character change during the course of the novel?

3. How did the pressures of the Civil Rights era manifest themselves within the Jordan/​O’Leary family?
How did the mother and the daughter each handle those pressures?

4. What was a unifying family dynamic and ethos, based on the Civil Rights Movement?

5. What made the relationship between Ruby and Elizabeth so fraught?

6. Why did Ruby cut off her mother for so long?
Do you think a young biracial woman today would feel the same need to estrange herself from a white mother?

7. Have you heard of, or personally experienced, a similar situation in a family—where one member leaves for a long time?
Has there been some healing?
How did that happen? Did you play a role?

8. How did a theme of forgiveness weave throughout the novel?

9. What do you imagine happened after the close of the story?

Selected Works

"A powerful story brilliantly capturing the complications of the mother-daughter relationship from both sides." --Marissa Moss, author of the bestselling Amelia's Notebook series
Selected as Teen Read of the Year by "Coming Together in Skokie," 2015. ***************************************** "In a fast-paced novel-within-a-novel, Nina's great-great-grandmother runs from slavery to freedom, her courage an inspiration to Nina. This multi-layered novel--part contemporary, part historical--is impossible to put down." --Elizabeth Partridge, award winning author of Dogtag Summer
Showcases the many facets of a woman--Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton--who remains an iconic torch-bearer for the Civil Rights and Women's Movements.
Diversity Classic Reissued, July, 2016 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "This refreshing book captures what most miss--insightful lessons from personal encounters with diversity. Lester is a talented storyteller who shares her learning in an unpretentious way." Ann M. Morrison, author of The New Leaders. ******************************************* "Lester's generous voice sheds keen insight, humor and practical advice on the polarizing dilemmas of living with diversity." Urvashi Vaid
Offers proven, effective strategies for every woman, whether secretary or CEO. Provides encouragement and goal-setting guidelines. "Lucid...poignant."-- MS.