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Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong

3.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  127 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
"The tenderness and truth of the book moved my heart. As well as the enormous love." - Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple Identity Crisis. As a biracial teen, Nina is accustomed to a life of varied hues—mocha-colored skin, ringed brown hair streaked with red, a darker brother, a black father, a white mother. When her parents decide to divorce, ...more
Hardcover, 222 pages
Published August 27th 2011 by Zondervan (first published August 9th 2011)
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I really wanted to like this book. I really did, but I just can't finish it. It's heavy handed, obvious and slow.

It's the story of a mixed race girl witnessing her white mothers divorce from her black father. It could be educational, thought provoking and heart-warming. Instead there are layers upon layers of 'race-issues' that are written into a thick nest of 'you-should-be-thinking-about-this' subplots. Instead of giving a us a story that makes us think the writing is a conglomeration of 'issu
Apr 08, 2012 Marissa rated it did not like it
I just hated it.
Mar 13, 2014 emma rated it it was ok
Recommended to emma by: Z Street Team
Shelves: arc
This book was ok. It was really hard to get into and just kinda boring... I liked reading the parts about Nina's slave relative! That was better than the actual story, I think... sorry!
Mar 08, 2016 Kellean rated it liked it
Biracial teen, Nina, has watched her life change dramatically in a short amount of time. Her parents have recently split up and her darker skinned brother has gone to live with her black father, while she, with mocha-colored skin and reddish hair, stays with her white mother. A freshman in high school, she feels torn between her white friends and her black friends, as racial tensions arise in nearby Oakland. She feels like she has to choose one race or another and feels like no one understands h ...more
Apr 20, 2012 Alex rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
While the message of the book was glaringly obvious, it doesn't detract from the inner unrest that many "mixed" kids feel-- feeling too this or not enough that to fit in with a group of people, the anger and sadness and frustration when no one seems to understand or willing to challenge their own stagnant beliefs and prejudices.
Janet W.
Dec 01, 2013 Janet W. rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fiction
I think the idea for this story, the struggles of the racially mixed young girl, was idustrious but reading the story was exhausting. I was annoyed with all the characters. The back story that Nina was reading was more interesting. I just didn't enjoy the writing for the present-day story.
Danie P.
Dec 02, 2011 Danie P. rated it liked it
A well written book about a young girl feeling neither black or white, being 15, being a child of divorce and a freshman in high school.
Oct 05, 2015 Tracey rated it liked it
This book could have been way better than what it was but it had some pretty good moments, mainly Nina's father's transcript.
Jennifer Lavoie
I received this book as part of the Z Street Team for Zondervan. I chose the book out of two offered and I am very glad that I did. The book was a fantastic look into the life of a girl who is biracial and is at a point in her life where she questions who and what she is.

The most interesting aspect of the book for me was how the story of her great-great grandmother, a former slave, was told throughout her story. As she goes through her trials in life, she reads about what her ancestor went thro
Sep 07, 2011 Christa rated it really liked it
Nina Armstrong goes through identity crisis when her white mother and black father go through a divorce. Not only is she now living in a split family unit, but now she is living between two races. Being a freshman in High School is hard enough, but having to choose who to be friends with based on the color of their skin is challenging. Everything around her seems to be tumbling down and the only thing that gives her guidance is the through the research and story of her great-great grandmother Sa ...more
Nina Armstrong is a biracial teen with a little brother, Jimi, whose skin is darker than her own, a black father, and a white mother. Her life is good and she has great friends but it is not until her parents decide to divorce that she realizes she has been viewing her life through rose-colored glasses.

Everyone in Nina’s life is changing. Her father transforms from mellow to angry, seeming to forget that his children are half white. Nina’s mother is irritable and begins to curse more than usual.
Jan 04, 2014 DubaiReader rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible, 2013
Issues of race and identity.

This young-adult book will strike a chord with many of today's youngsters, either because they find themselves in this situation, or because others they know are struggling with similar problems to Nina.
Nina is American, has a white mother, black father and a mixed brother who is darker than she is. She hadn't seen this as a problem until her parents decide to divorce and she stays with her mother, while her younger brother goes to live with her Dad. At the same time,
Reena Jacobs
Jul 13, 2012 Reena Jacobs rated it liked it
Expect my full review September 5, 2011 at Ramblings of an Amateur Author:

I had a rocky start with Black, White, Other. This book threw me right into the middle of a packing scene, followed by Nina (15 years old) rushing out the door to catch a bus to see her dad. And I’m thinking: her mom isn’t going to see her off? Of course, I’m thinking she’s catching a Greyhound bus. Well, at least until she missed the bus only to catch another one shortly. It also took me awhile to f
Meagan Myhren-bennett
Jul 28, 2011 Meagan Myhren-bennett rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teens, Junior High Readers, Young Adults
Recommended to Meagan by: Z Street Team Reviews
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 everyon
Written Melodies
Sep 30, 2011 Written Melodies rated it really liked it
Recommended to Written Melodies by: Z Street Team
Identity is a concept familiar to all. It is something that is struggled with daily and not easily defined. Who am I? Our gifts, talents, experiences, and ancestors make us who we are. For most, adolescence is the first attempt to piece together the puzzle of ourselves. Grappling with identity is frightening, but even more terrifying is being a biracial teen struggling with this issue when the world familiar to you crashes down.

In Black, White, Other, Nina Armstrong, a product of mixed parentag
Apr 05, 2013 Penelope rated it liked it
I've always loved books that detailed the life of slave children. They hit home and are so powerful, and it's always so moving to hear of ancestors and their life stories. The stories they tell make a person inspired enough to get up and change their own life, which is pretty much exactly what the protagonist, Nina Armstrong, did.
A novel about fitting in and finding yourself and the answers you seek, I went so fast through this book it was like water to me. I gobbled all the little nuggets of
This is another book that I decided to read because I "met" the author through Shelf Awareness' Book Brahmin. Lester mentioned some of my favorite books in her interview so I decided to read her YA novel.

Nina is a freshman in high school whose whole world seems to be coming apart. Her parents are separated, one of her best friends has moved away and suddenly the fact that she is biracial seems to matter. The beginning of the book is a great set up for your typical Young Adult problem novel.

Apr 01, 2015 Cat rated it it was ok
It was well written I just don't think I'd read some of the authors other books if they were going to be like this. It wasn't what I thought it was that's for sure. I was waiting for something really exciting to happen but it never did. So I would recommend this book to people who enjoy non fiction because it's really just a non fiction story with fictional characters telling it.
This book is about a mixed race girl's struggle to find her identity. She finally, after many trials, begins to realize that her identity is not a race, but it is her, with all of her strengths and weaknesses.

There is a continuing story interspersed throughout the book of Nina's slave ancestor. Sarah's story of escaping slavery is exceptional, although it starts out choppy.

I noticed that the publisher of the book usually publishes Christian literature. This book has little bits about God and J
I thought this book was trying much to hard to be a literary masterpiece. Nina was annoying and unrelatable. Her attitude toward her parents I found to be outrageous. I kept thinking to myself while reading, god I hope she just ditches her friends. I mean, DON'T BE FRIENDS WITH RACISTS!!! She just never really realized that. She also needs to learn, in my humble but correct opinion, that so many other people have it harder. Some people have NEVER had any real friends. I also thought it was hilar ...more
Keisha McCollum
Jun 17, 2011 Keisha McCollum rated it it was amazing
Black, White, Other is a story that many American’s can relate to. Nina is an all American teenager with a darker brother, a white mother, and a black father. The sudden divorce of her parents causes a sudden rift in how she views the world in a multicultural way. Between the problems within her family and the new dynamics of racial tension at school she feels lost. So Nina turns to the story of her great-great- grandmother’s escape from slavery. Within this story I understood the characters str ...more
Lyn Ehley
Aug 25, 2011 Lyn Ehley rated it really liked it
An interesting story of biracial awareness as a teen encounters bigotry from both the blacks and the whites. Nina grew up in a world on non-color as child and these same friends see her not fitting in with either race as she gets older. Woven throughout the book is a novel about her great grandmother escaping slavery in the South. Nina finds courage and wisdom from her father's book and finds her way through the veil of bigotry and labeling.

A good read - fast paced, very real in its attitude (I
May 27, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
3.5 stars... I found Nina to be a real teeenager with real problems and I think my teenage self might have been better able to relate with her. My adult self found her a bit too whiny. However, I really liked the story within the story of Sarah Armstrong, a slave who travels the Underground Railroad. This could lead to some great discussion about race and friendship and the difference between "running away" and "running toward" something. I appreciate that it does include a bibliography (a coupl ...more
J.k. Rollins
Oct 02, 2011 J.k. Rollins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a brilliant, quick read. Lester brings the reader in right away to Nina's world and has a clear sense of what a teenager's life is like. The story-within-a-story of Nina's grandmother, running away from slavery, is a powerful way of showing how personal history echoes in our lives, helping guide Nina when she needs it most. Although the story is ostensibly about racial identity, it's really about any and every teen, searching to define themselves against their parents and peers. Per ...more
Nov 11, 2015 Robyn rated it did not like it
I read this book with the 13-year-old that I tutor, and my God, is it heavy-handed. Even my tutee thought that the main character's motivations and the ending were "lame" (what I like to call "nonsensical bullshit").
Sep 08, 2011 PopcornReads rated it really liked it
Nina Armstrong is a biracial teenager living in the East Bay San Francisco area. She’s just turned fifteen and is still getting used to the idea. Her dad, Silas, is African American and her mom, Maggie, is Caucasian. That Nina is biracial was never a big deal partially because her parents were so together on everything, at least until they decided to get a divorce. Then Nina’s whole world turned upside down. Read the rest of my review at
Apr 05, 2013 Anna rated it it was amazing
This is about a high school girl from a mixed-race family that has experienced a recent divorce. She struggles at school with fitting into both Black and white cultural groups. Whilst experiencing frustration at school and at home, she is reading her father's book about her great grandmother escaping from slavery. It has a good ending and I think the issues that come up in this book are real- it's definitely still relevant.
Alma  Ramos-McDermott
Jan 29, 2016 Alma Ramos-McDermott rated it really liked it
Nina has a Black father and a White mother. She looks White, but race has never been an issue in her family until her father moves out when she turns fifteen. It seemed like her father changed overnight, blaming Whites for the race riots in nearby Oakland California.

Read the rest of my review on my blog: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.c...
Maribel reyes
Aug 04, 2011 Maribel reyes rated it it was ok
I received this book from the Z street team(Zondervan) and I'm sorry to say that this was a hard book to get interested in. Although the part of Nina's ancestor story was really intriguing and it kept me reading throughout the book. Besides the fact that it is hard to get into the book, I totally agree with what the book itself represents when it comes to a young girl finding herself a mist two different cultures.
Cara Stone
I enjoyed this novel about a teenager struggling with her racial identity in the midst of her parents' divorce. The historical references/parallels brought the reader to two worlds while making the work a whole. The one thing that really disappointed me was the romantic reference the author throws in toward the end, which felt like an afterthought, a stretch at best.
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Joan Steinau Lester, Ed.D. is an award-winning NPR commentator, columnist, and the author of four books. Black, White, Other, a 2011 Young Adult novel, was her first fiction. Her latest novel, Mama's Child, will be released May 7.
More about Joan Steinau Lester...

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