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Black, White, Other: Review

Title: Black, White, Other
Author: Joan Lester
Release Date: August 2011
Published By: Zondervan
Pages: 208
Goodreads Rating: 3.56 stars

Review: Biracial Nina's life seems like it's falling apart. Her African American dad and white mother have divorced, and at school, the prejudices of one race over another have made her struggle with her identity. She's too white for the African Americans and too black for the whites, and as she faces more and more uncertainty, the only thing that gives her comfort is the story of her great-grandmother, who escaped slavery. Nina decides to embark on an escape of her own, and runs away from home, where she comes to terms with who she is.

As a biracial teen myself (though I'm Asian and white, instead of black and white like Nina), I thought it would be interesting to read BLACK, WHITE, OTHER and gain perspective on the stories of other biracial teens. I've always been very lucky to really never face prejudice about my race, and it was surprising to read about how split Nina's school was and how much she had to struggle to try to fit in.

However, as eye-opening as it was to read about these race issues, I had a hard time remaining engaged in the story, particularly because of, well, Nina herself. I sympathized with her in places, but for the most part, she made rather dumb decisions that had me cringing and wanting to shout at her not to do that. This, compounded with the fact that she seemed a lot younger than fifteen as she was described, interfered with my enjoyment of the story.

While it had a lot of potential, BLACK, WHITE, OTHER ultimately let me down. I applaud the author for exploring complex racial issues, but story-wise, this book just didn't do it for me. It was difficult for me to truly sympathize with Nina because I just couldn't understand why she was making immature choices. The synopsis was promising, but the execution didn't cut it.

I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher. This is no way affected my review.


We Heart YA said...

Hm, that's unfortunate. I'm biracial too (also Asian and white!) so I was hoping to find something in this book to latch onto, but it sounds like I might not... Well, my library has it, so I still might "give it a whirl," so they say. ;)

By the way, have you read anything by Amy Tan? Joy Luck Club, Hundred Secret Senses, or the Bonesetter's Daughter are my faves. Also the Opposite of Fate, although that's more of a memoir about her life and writing.

The Color of Water by James McBride is good too.


Izzy G. said...

Ooh, I've heard so much about Amy Tan and yet I've never read her books. I'll definitely pick them up! I haven't heard of James McBride, but the synopsis sounds intriguing. Thanks so much for the suggestions!

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