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About The Book

That Mean Old Yesterday is an astonishing coming-of-age memoir by a young woman who survived the foster care system to become an award-winning journalist.

No one would ever imagine that the vibrant, smart, and attractive Stacey Patton had a childhood from hell. Once a foster child who found a home, she was supposed to be among the lucky. On a rainy night in November 1999, a shoeless Stacey, promising student at NYU, headed down a New Jersey street toward her adoptive parents' house. She carried a gun in her pocket, and she kept repeating to herself that she would pull the trigger. She wanted to kill them. Or so she thought.

This is a story of how a typical American family can be undermined by its own effort to be perfect on the surface. After all, with God-fearing, house-proud, and hardworking adoptive parents, Stacey appeared to beat the odds. But her mother was tyrannical, and her father, either so in love with or in fear of his wife, turned a blind eye to the abuse she heaped on their love-starved little girl.

In That Mean Old Yesterday, a little girl rises above the tyranny of an overzealous mother by channeling her intellectual energy into schoolwork. Wise beyond her years, she can see that her chances for survival are advanced through her struggle to get into an elite boarding school. She uses all she has, a brilliant mind, to link her experience to the legacy of American slavery and to successfully frame her understanding of why her good adoptive parents did terrible things to her by realizing that they had terrible things done to them.

About The Author

Photo Credit:

Stacey Patton is currently a graduate student pursuing her PhD in history at Rutgers University. She is also a professor at Montclair State University. She has written for The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, New York Newsday, and Scholastic magazine and is the recipient of numerous journalism awards and academic honors. She resides in New York. To learn more about Stacey Patton visit

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (September 4, 2007)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416545750

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Raves and Reviews

"[A]n unforgettable document of uniquely intelligent triumph." -- David Levering Lewis, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography

"Raw with pain, anger, and yearning, That Mean Old Yesterday also crackles with an abundance of intelligence, courage, and pure guts. Stacey Patton survived a childhood of abandonment and abuse and built herself into an accomplished, truly self-made young woman. Her memoir will grab you by the heart and blow your mind. A stunning literary debut." -- Jill Nelson, author of the bestselling memoir Volunteer Slavery and, most recently, Finding Martha's Vineyard: African Americans at Home on an Island

"Stacey Patton is a tour-de-force writer -- weaving together her many gifts as a natural storyteller as well as a steel-eyed historian, scholar, sage, poet, and journalist. In That Mean Old Yesterday, Patton performs a kind of sleight of hand by telling her own heartbreaking and triumphant story in context of the collective journey of African Americans -- out of slavery, through freedom, toward redemption. What makes this memoir even more universal and important is that in it we are movingly shown how it is possible to confront the past and why we must." -- Mim Eichler Rivas, coauthor of The Pursuit of Happyness with Chris Gardner and Quincy Troupe

"For those of us who have lived through the war zone of family violence and the attempted denigration of the human spirit, Stacey Patton's That Mean Old Yesterday is a testament that you can reclaim your life and positively impact the lives of others. In her deeply moving and revealing memoir, Patton powerfully reminded me that there is always hope." -- Victor Rivas Rivers, actor, activist, and author of A Private Family Matter

"Carefully reasoned and powerfully emotional." -- Kirkus Reviews

"A riveting tale...touching and instructive; the style penetrating and effective." -- Library Journal

"An astonishing coming-of-age story.... Patton's triumphant story will inspire African Americans to reconsider their treatment of children and their histories and be moved to better understand themselves." -- The Philadelphia Tribune

"That Mean Old Yesterday, Stacey Patton's feast of wonderful writing, is an extraordinary weave of memoir and racial history that transforms a black childhood and adolescence lived in hell into an unforgettable document of uniquely intelligent triumph." -- David Levering Lewis, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography

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