Gail Lukasik


"I Kept My Mother’s Racial Secret for 17 Years: White Like Her"

Gail Lukasik is a mystery author, a former ballerina, and a UIC writing instructor. While researching her family roots, she discovered her mother was “passing" as white. Complying with her mother’s wishes, Gail kept that secret for 17 years. She recently told her family story of race and racial passing in her newly published book, White Like Her: My Family’s Story Of Race and Racial Passing. 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. 

Copies of Gail's book, White Like Her: My Family’s Story Of Race And Racial Passing, will be on sale during the coffee hour.



About Gail Lukasik:

Gail was born in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in the suburb of Parma. Her mother, an avid moviegoer, took her every Friday night to the local movie theater. That’s where she fell in love with stories of all kinds. Her dream was to be a movie star, a ballerina or a writer.

As luck would have it, she realized two of her three dreams. She was a member of the Cleveland Civic Ballet Company. And she’s the author of four mystery novels, a memoir, a book of poetry, and numerous poems, essays, and short stories. Though never a movie star, Gail was active in Chicago area community theater groups dancing, singing, and acting in productions such as Cabaret, Desert Song, South Pacific and California Suite.

Early in her professional career, she worked a variety of jobs as diverse as a supervisor at Southwestern Bell Telephone, a freelance writer for McDonald’s Corporation, and a painting touchup artist. But her passion for writing never left her.

Eager to find a community of like-mined writers and wanting to immerse herself in literature and writing, she quit her job as Director of Public Relations at Robert Morris College and enrolled in graduate school in creative writing/poetry at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

After earning a M.A. and a Ph.D. in English with a specialization in writing poetry, she taught writing and literature classes at UIC, while simultaneously managing the Internship Program and the Nonfiction Writing Program. It was during this time that Gail became hooked on female detective novels.

One day her son said to her, “Mom, you’re always reading mysteries, why don’t you try writing one. Her first attempt became Destroying Angels. Kirkus Reviews called Destroying Angels, “a riveting debut thriller.”

Before writing the second book in the Leigh Girard series and always ready for a new adventure, she became a certified canoe instructor. Her experiences leading canoe trips inspired Death’s Door, which Kirkus described as “fast-paced and literate with a strong protagonist and a puzzle that keeps you guessing.” The third book, Peak Season for Murder, was awarded a Lovey Award for Best Traditional Amateur Sleuth at the Love is Murder conference in Chicago.

White Like Her was inspired by her two appearances on PBS’ Genealogy Roadshow and the discovery of her “lost” New Orleans family.

Still an avid moviegoer, Gail lives in Libertyville, Illinois with her husband.


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A typical Sunday meeting begins at 10:30, ends at noon and consists of a speaker or presentation focusing on current issues, ethical philosophy, lifespan education, or the arts. Platforms are open to the public and admission is free, although we request a donation of $5.
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