Book #1: Black, White, Other by Joan Steinau Lester
Published January 2017 by Blink|225 pages
Where I Got It: I received this book as an e-arc from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review
Genre: YA Contemporary
What It’s About: 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, the rainbow of Nina’s existence is reduced to a much starker reality. Shifting definitions and relationships are playing out all around her, and new boxes and lines seem to be getting drawn every day.
Between the fractures within her family and the racial tensions splintering her hometown, Nina feels caught in perpetual battle. Feeling stranded in the nowhere land between racial boundaries, and struggling for personal independence and identity, Nina turns to the story of her great-great-grandmother’s escape from slavery. Is there direction in the tale of her ancestor? Can Nina build her own compass when landmarks from her childhood stop guiding the way?
Rating/Review: 2 stars. It was okay for me, and I wanted to like it, but I had a hard time with it. I found myself skimming through the part where she’s reading about her relative. I liked the present-day story a little bit more, and the message was really obvious- but it’s also really important. She really does struggle to fit in, and you see how much things change her and how she feels caught in the middle on so many different levels. I did really like seeing the relationship with one of her friends and her reaction to Nina hanging out with other people. I think it’s something we can all relate to, feeling like we don’t fit in, but I feel like I understand Nina a little better.
Book #2: A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes
Published January 2017 by Blink|233 pages
Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review
What It’s About: Nikki Grimes, a bestselling author known for titles such as Dark Sons, Barak Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope, and Voices of Christmas has written a gripping book from the perspective of a girl named Mister (Mary Rudine) who finds herself momentarily distracted from her faith commitment to purity by a handsome boy named Trey. After one night of weakness, Mister finds her entire life has changed, even if she can’t yet accept all the changes occurring within her are real. When the emotional scars of losing her innocence are more lasting than she imagined, Mister turns to a book of her mother’s, which contains poems from Mary’s perspective. As both Mister and Mary’s voices play out in the story, a full and meaningful portrait of Christian faith, trust, and forgiveness emerges, along with the truth that God can use even the most unplanned events in our lives for his greater glory.
Rating & Review: 2 stars. This one was okay for me. It was a quick read, which I think is because the entire book is told in verse. It was okay, but sometimes it felt like things were broken up to give the appearance of poetry, because there were times where it didn’t feel like I was reading poetry. Then again, I don’t read a lot of novels told in verse, so maybe unfamiliarity is where my problem lies. There is a whole diary feel to the book that didn’t quite work for me. The comparison to Mary, Jesus’ mother, did not work for me at all, and I felt like the comparison was trying to compare apples and oranges. I’m also not sure what the book was going for abstinence, maybe? That’s the impression I got. I’m also not quite clear on who the book is actually meant for- definitely not me, but maybe a teen who’s questioning her faith is the target audience for this? The ending was also abrupt and left a lot of questions.