Review: Color Me In by Natasha Díaz

Color Me In is a lyrical, stunning ownvoices debut novel that you won’t want to put down. Here’s why.

Debut YA author Natasha Díaz pulls from her personal experience to inform this powerful coming-of-age novel about the meaning of friendship, the joyful beginnings of romance, and the racism and religious intolerance that can both strain a family to the breaking point and strengthen its bonds.

Who is Nevaeh Levitz?

Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time.

Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.

It’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be? (Goodreads) Goodreads

I received an eARC of Color Me In from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Color Me In needs trigger warnings for discussions of alcoholism, discussions of infidelity by a parent, police brutality on the page,  discussions of Black Lives Matter protests, mention of rape, discussion of manipulation in a romantic relationship, lying to a romantic partner, and a very unfriendly divorce between the main character’s parents.

I can’t say enough about how beautifully written Color Me In is, y’all. Maybe a quarter of it is actual poems told to enhance the story, which are, of course, stunning, but the rest of the writing has the same young, brilliant voice throughout it.

Neveah struggles with feeling torn between the two very different parts of her life and trying to figure out exactly who she could be with the world’s expectations crashing down on her. Díaz did a great job of making Neveah’s internal conflict really thrilling without overpowering the plot. I also loved the way that the external plot was dealt with near the end. 

This story is beautiful and important and I can’t recommend it enough. You can pick up a copy for yourself from Amazon, Indiebound or Book Depository.

 

ABOUT COLOR ME IN

Title: Color Me In

Author: Natasha Díaz

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Length: 384 Pages

Release Date: August 20, 2019

Rating: Highly Recommended

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction

Representation: Black Jewish Woman author, Black Jewish female main character, multiracial Chinese-American side character, 

 

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