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About The Book

An astonishing coming-of-age memoir by a young woman who survived the foster care system and went on to become an award-winning journalist.

On a rainy night in November 1999, a shoeless Stacey Patton, promising student at NYU, approached her adoptive parents' house with a gun in her hand. She wanted to kill them. Or so she thought.

No one would ever imagine that the vibrant, smart, and attractive Stacey had a childhood from hell. After all, with God-fearing, house-proud, and hardworking adoptive parents, she appeared to beat the odds. But her mother was tyrannical, and her father turned a blind eye to the years of abuse his wife heaped on their love-starved little girl.

Now in her unforgettable memoir, Stacey links her experience to the legacy of American slavery and successfully frames her understanding of why her good adoptive parents did terrible things to her by realizing they had terrible things done to them. She describes a story of how a typical American family can be undermined by their own effort to be perfect on the surface while denying emotional wounds inflicted—even generations before—that were never allowed to heal.

Unflinching and powerfully written, That Mean Old Yesterday ultimately brings light and gives a voice to children who have experienced mistreatment at the hands of those who are meant to help.

About The Author

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Dr. Stacey Patton is an award-winning journalist and child advocate who teaches digital storytelling and media literacy at Howard University. She writes frequently about race and child welfare issues for The Washington PostAl Jazeera, BBC News, and The Root, and has won numerous journalism awards and academic honors. Dr. Patton also is the author of the memoir That Mean Old YesterdayNot My Cat is her first picture book. Visit her at

Product Details

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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