Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester


Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

black-white-otherBlack, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

…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.


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