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About Gail Lukasik
Gail Lukasik was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and was a ballerina with the Cleveland Civic Ballet Company. She has worked as a choreographer, freelance writer, editor, and college lecturer.
Gail's appearance on PBS's Genealogy Roadshow became the inspiration for her book, White Like Her: My Family's Story of Race and Racial Passing. Vowed to secrecy until her mother's death, Gail revealed on national television to 1.5 million people that her mother passed for white. Within three days of her appearance, the family she never knew she had found her. Set against the historical backdrop of the Jim Crow South, White Like Her chronicles her journey to uncover the truth of her mother's racial heritage and to understand her mother's decision to pass for white.
Her first mystery novel, Destroying Angels, was written as a result of her son's suggestion: "You're always reading mysteries, why don't you try writing one." Kirkus Reviews described her second Leigh Girard mystery, Death's Door, as "fast-paced and literate, with a strong protagonist and a puzzle that keeps you guessing."
Peak Season for Murder, her third Leigh Girard mystery, won a Lovey Award for Best Traditional Amateur Sleuth. Mel Jacobs of Gumshoe Reviews said of Peak Season for Murder: "The exciting climax will keep the pages turning. The intricacies of the characters and relationships add spice to the continuing story of Leigh Girard."
Her book of poems, Homeless, In My Own Words: True Stories of Homeless Mothers, was inspired by her interviews with homeless mothers living in Chicagoland area shelters. She spent a year recording the women's stories.
She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she taught writing and literature. For fun, she became a certified canoe instructor and has led canoeing trips on the Des Plaines River. When her nose isn't buried in a book, she likes to hike the beautiful forest preserves near her house.
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Books By Gail Lukasik
Gail Lukasik’s mother Alvera had a secret she was determined to take to the grave. Though she lived as a white woman with a white family, she had been born Black. White Like Her is the story of Alvera’s “passing,” Gail’s struggle with the shame of her mother’s choice, and her subsequent journey of self-discovery and redemption.
In the historical context of the Jim Crow South, Gail explores her mother’s decision to pass, how she hid her secret even from her own husband, and the price she paid for choosing whiteness. Haunted by her mother’s fear and shame, Gail embarks on a quest to uncover her mother’s racial lineage, tracing her family back to eighteenth-century colonial Louisiana. In coming to terms with her decision to publicly out her mother, Gail changed how she looks at race, heritage, and her own identity.
Foreword written by Kenyatta Berry, host of PBS's Genealogy Roadshow
When Carl Peck's daughter attempts to take her own life shortly after her good friend, a local librarian, kills herself, Leigh makes a shocking connection to a twenty-year-old secret. As she probes the heart of a tragic mystery that bridges past and present, Leigh learns the survival instincts that have carried her this far are about to be tested against a clever killer.