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'Beautiful' essays that address race, family, religion and more

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'Brown White Black' by Nishta J. Mehra
'Brown White Black' by Nishta J. Mehra
Courtesy of publisher

Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke to Allison Punch from Old Town Books in Alexandria, Va.

When Nishta J. Mehra goes out with her family, people stare.

That's just one of the realities she addresses in her essay collection, "Brown White Black: An American Family at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Religion." 

Bookseller Allison Punch recommends the book and its "beautiful essays."

"[Mehra] is an first-generation Indian-American woman who is married to a white woman, and they are raising a black, gender-nonconforming child," Punch said. The essays discuss "her family and her growing up in Memphis, and everything that comes with living with a family with such various identities and lived experiences.

"It really resonated with me, because I am also in a queer, interracial relationship, and she talks so beautifully about both sides of the stares and looks they get, existing as a family and loving one another," Punch said. "She talks a lot about their visibility as a family.

"She does a good job of not really judging others, but helping folks be aware of the ways in which society's norms affect how we treat one another, in personal relationships but also strangers on the street.

"Because [Mehra] does hold such a variety of identities, really anyone can connect with this book ... She talks a lot about motherhood, she talks a lot about her relationship with her father, she talks a lot about growing up and just her relationship to race in general, as someone who is from a South Asian immigrant family. I feel like everyone can see themselves reflected in this book, but also learn from something completely new."

 Brown White Black  Brown White Black