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Mixed: My Life in Black and White Paperback – January 30, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Villard (January 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345481143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345481146
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #974,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Are you black or white?" That question has plagued Nissel, a light-skinned child born to a white father and black mother, since birth; she tackles it with honesty and aplomb in this witty memoir about the years she spent in West Philadelphia during the 1970s and '80s. Whether recalling an oral report on fellow "mulatto" David Hasselhoff that she gave in the third grade ("He's half black because my mother said he is!") or the way she "act[ed] like a 'tard" to escape bullies or her descent into depression (and stay at a psych ward) during her first year at U. Penn, Nissel—a former staff writer for the NBC sitcom Scrubs—infuses her coming-of-age tale with humor and pathos. Nissel's accounts of her college interlude at the "crazy spa" and her attempt at exotic dancing—where she can "play up the cultural thing"—are particularly illuminating. While the former episode helps conquer her fear of outside judgment (with the help of three dementia-stricken old white ladies, no less), the latter smacks her back down, reminding her that maintaining one's own sense of personal identity—free from societal and racial molds—is a daily struggle. Though she often presents herself as less fortunate than she really was, Nissel's writing is very funny and very sharp. (Mar. 21)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–As a light-skinned child born to a black mother and a white father, Nissel has constantly grappled with the question of racial identity. Growing up in West Philadelphia during the 1970s and '80s, she came of age trying to figure out who she was and where she fit. She encountered bullies and interesting friends and teachers, and experienced the turmoil of race-conscious dating. She had a bout of depression while in college, and took on a variety of odd jobs, including one night as an exotic dancer. Through all of this she struggled to maintain her own sense of self in spite of societal views. Nissel is insightful, funny, and a person with whom many readers will identify.–Shannon Seglin, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 28 customer reviews
You will soooo laugh.
Danae Howe
I like that she opens up about a lot of things in her life that most people would like to stay hidden or at least unspoken.
Z. THOMPSON
Angela Nisell made fun of an often difficult and uncomfortable situation and turned it into an enjoyable memoir.
Charity Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By NaughtiLiterati VINE VOICE on June 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
I'm going to go get her other one tomorrow. Finally, a FUNNY memoir about growing up in America being black and white! I was on the subway laughing like a maniac while reading this. I know many of us grew up around mixed children and especially as children, we can be not very kind. This book is written in a comical format with serious undertones and sheds a lot of light on how it feels to grow up as one. I was never one of the cruel kids but know many who were and feel for the author but am especially proud of her many successes. WERK, Angela!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Danae Howe on January 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am so glad Ms. Nissel wrote this book. Being mixed Black and White myself, I have had similar experiences. So many people fought and cried against our very existence. Shoot, a hundred years of Jim Crow laws went into preventing it.But here we are - mixed and proud - maybe a little difficult to understand - but we're workin' on it. Not all mixed people are alike, but one by one - as we tell our stories, we are beginning to come into ourselves as members of our own group.

Angela does a great job of representing both herself and the rest of us in a responsible, balanced, respectful and humorous way. You will soooo laugh. She has a knack for comedic timing and writing - and boy can she weave a story! Her Broke Diaries book is hilarious as well. Please pick these up when you get a chance. I need to get a couple more copies myself, as all of my family members keep passing them around.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bart King on April 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
This could be a forgettable book. The well-educated and attractive daughter of a bi-racial couple who now works for a successful sitcom (SCRUBS) tells us how rough and interesting her life has been? Please!

But this book is actually quite good. Why? Because it's funny and energetically written! Nissel is a witty and charming guide to the more amusing episodes of her life as a girl wondering what the heck it is to be a "mulatto." For instance, Nissel's mother was a member of the Black Panther Party who married her father because she thought he was half-black. (Even though he was a redhead, she was thrown off by his black stepfather.) This is the same mother who tried to persuade Angela that David Hasselhoff was half-black so that she would have a good role-model to look up to.

And this isn't all fun and games. Nissel writes revealingly about being treated for depression, and how culturally difficult it is for a black woman to claim to BE depressed. (She was afraid that her Black Pass would be revoked if word of this got out.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charles Morgan on March 2, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well, first of all, this author is a writer on Scrubs, the surreal hospital sit-com!
Need I say more? This is an excellent, witty memoir about how tough it is to grow
up with an uncertain sense about where one fits in as half-african american/half-caucasian. Such stories resonate with me, I think partly because my family moved a lot and I was always new everywhere but mostly because we were both intelligent children who thought a lot about things(but I was not as funny). I also find it instructive to know more about how Angela felt to be on the receiving end of other people's uncertainy about who she is simply because of the way she looked. As she says, the tension was inescapable. I think these stories are as
helpful to race relations as they are entertaining because of the wonderfully warm and clear voice in which Ms. Nissel tells them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Z. THOMPSON on March 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
I loved her first book and I loved this one too. I don't know how she can keep her sense of humor at all times. I'm not mixed but I have felt that confusion of where you fit in at times so I relate to some of her experiences. I love Scrubs and I'm sure she's had a hand in some the things that has me and my family calling each other laughing about it. Ok, now I'll get back to the book. I like that she opens up about a lot of things in her life that most people would like to stay hidden or at least unspoken. By being open she lets other people see that they're not the only ones that may have gone through similar things like her. And I think it's her sense of humor that keeps her going.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Motowngirl on March 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
Being a long time follower of this author, I was so excited to get my hands on her second release that I "accidentally" read it in 2days!

I love Angie's work. Even though I started the book thinking it was going to be all laughs from start to finish, I was surprised and glad to see that it had real, and sometimes sad moments.

Angela always finds a way to pull you into her world and you inevitably see life in a fun yet thought-provoking way. I'm glad I could go through all of her trials and tribulations with her in this book, it made me feel alot better about some of my own. I can't wait until book #3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lori Zelman on January 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
What an amazing story this woman has to tell. It will make you laugh, cry, scream and embrace yourself all at the same time. It's that book that you can't put down. I won't tell go into detail about the short stories, but I will say this, no matter what your race is, we have all felt the emotional mishaps and pleasures of this author. Looking forward to the next book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Just ME on August 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
As a mixed girl, I decided to read this book in hopes of see what someone else's experience was like. Hers was not too similar to mine. I could relate to her on some levels, but for the most part I really couldn't. Although I did understand her experiences, even if I couldn't fully personally relate.

The book was kinda funny.

My main problem with the book was that she would never tell you what age she was at each event.

One minute she could be talking about being 11 when something happened, and then all of a sudden be 13 or 14. It got kinda confusing trying to figure out what her age was.

I also felt that towards the end, she started jumping ahead. One minute she speaks of the fact that black men only date white in California. Then she speaks of trying white men out. And the next thing, she is talking about her black husband. She does not go into how she met and how that relationship became a marriage.

It seemed like she left out some things of her story.

Overall, the book was good, it gave a good idea of how the average mixed person growing up has to deal with problems from both blacks and whites. Although my own experiences aren't as similar to hers, it is nice to see someone talk about theirs. I would say Mixed is a great starter book for people who want to know more about biracial people, and even further, want to know more about interracial relationships, being black, etc.
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