Cover Image: Color Me In

Color Me In

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an ARC.

I am so thankful that this book exists. This is a great novel exploring white privilege, biracial identities, family, the struggle of infidelity and divorce on a teen, and being a messy teenager.
Was this review helpful?
4/5 stars. This was well-written Young Adult contemporary novel that was own voices and deals with identity. Thank you netgalley for the early copy.
Was this review helpful?
Contemporary look at intersectionality. Authentic character, plausible world building and compelling to read.
Was this review helpful?
Overall I enjoyed Color Me In. Nevaeh's experience being torn between two cultures was really a compelling story, and I loved the stark differences between the two. The story got a little over dramatic for me in the last third of the book - it felt lie Diaz was trying to make a really grand statement that was definitely there, but a bit over dramatic. That said, I do love coming-of-age stories and this one was really unique.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this read…but I struggled a bit with it. It took me a while to get into the story and start investing in it, and I found our main character, Nevaeh, to be way more judgmental for my taste. However, I did love the message the author wraps the plot around. Highly recommend grabbing the audio of this instead of diving into it the traditional reading route.
Was this review helpful?
This was the first book I identified with as a biracial person. It shows the complexities of being not enough to those around you, because they see you through their lens. Nevaeh struggles with her identity & being able to love both "sides" of who she is while also not feeling like enough of either in a world that judges you based on appearance. In that struggle to own a check box identity, she finds her way & hits some hard realities amongst her friends & family  members. 

Nevaeh learns to be less self centered in her concerns & has to realize how sheltered her life of privilege has been. All while navigating a new life, in a new space with a new understanding of who her parents are as adults. While she gets close Natasha leaves an open door to see her progression in a possible sequel. 

Natasha teaches a hard lesson many of us had to learn too. The check box identity isn't to be desired, but let go, because its outdated & oppressive in so many ways. The boxes that say if you're truly black you won't speak good English or if you're truly down with your culture you must participate in foolishness. The boxes that say well if you're biracial how come you don't have the "good hair" check box marked or the nice light Hollywood perapproved skin tone? 

I would recommend this book for all adolescents to not only see the struggle of their identity isn't problematic or unique to them, but a lesson we must all learn. Especially when the world around us wants to pidgeon hole us into check boxes.
Was this review helpful?
Love the colo cover of this book. It's a young adult book that deals with rascism, our protagonist is coming of age. Sweet sixteen. Dealing with the stereotypes of being black and Jewish.
Was this review helpful?
What I Liked
From the very first chapter (which I guess is more of a prologue!), I was struck emotionally by the theme of the book. Child Nevaeh and her mother are at a playground, and a white mother mistakes Nevaeh's Black mother as Nevaeh's nanny. This chapter also shows us the woman Nevaeh's mother really is--patient, proud, and strong--versus what we'll see for most of the rest of the book. Devastated by Nevaeh's father's infidelity, her mother is largely paralyzed by depression and grief.

The development of Nevaeh as a character is slow and thoughtful, like a flower blooming one petal at a time. Her dual identities are weighed equally and balance each other back and forth. The poetry throughout the book, both what Nevaeh writes herself as well as the poetry of her peers, is beautiful and lyrical and at times sad, but always powerful.

Nevaeh's father is Jewish but not terribly observant, a Jewish background that is similar to my own. Knowing vaguely that this is a piece of your heritage, but not knowing how to interact with it, is a strange feeling of disconnection and longing to be allowed into a space that you ultimately do have the right to occupy. Nevaeh's Torah study with a rabbi-in-training opens up her understanding of the Jewish side of her heritage, and is done in a very realistic way. Those of us Jews who were not involved in synagogue from a young age, who had to struggle to learn Hebrew as adults, who felt like we were stray balloons floating on the periphery of the party, will understand Nevaeh's feelings toward her late bat mitzvah.

Díaz artfully brought Nevaeh closer to her mother via her mother's old journals from when she was in college and had just met Nevaeh's father. This glimpse into her parents' past shows not only their budding love and a side to her parents that we don't really see in the present, but also the racism that Nevaeh's mother deals with, and her father's own casual (unintentional? but still harmful and unexamined) racism that he imposes upon her. Díaz's own experiences informed Nevaeh's interaction with racism within the Jewish community--anti-Blackness is an ugly part of some Jewish communities, and Díaz brings to light that anti-Blackness in a sensitive and enlightening way.

Content Warnings
Sexual assault: It happens very early in the book, and is not an assault of Nevaeh but of her mother, told in a journal entry. The assault itself is detailed enough to make the reader uncomfortable, but vague enough that it isn't gratuitous. It is not an arbitrary assault for shock value; it informs much of Nevaeh's mother's character as she goes to college and interacts with Nevaeh's father. The psychological effect it has on her self-worth is poignant and heart-breaking, and as the journal entries progress the reader is at the same time joyful that Nevaeh's mother is able to work through her feelings of guilt and worthlessness via her positive interactions with Nevaeh's father, but also furious that one day, her father is going to undo all of that trust and love by betraying her in the worst way possible. This is another of Díaz's skillful emotional push-and-pulls when it comes to Nevaeh's understanding of her parents, and helps us understand why her mother, who is demonstrated to be a powerful woman otherwise, is brought so low by her father's cheating. This old, deep psychological wound is reopened violently by his betrayal, and her near-catatonic response is not only a response to the betrayal itself, but a re-triggering of her previous certainty that she is worthless and unlovable. If you are disturbed by depictions of sexual assault, it occurs during Nevaeh's first reading of her mother's journal (this is framed very clearly), and should be skipped for mental health protection.

Racist violence: When Jesús meets Nevaeh at her school and Nevaeh gets into a fight with Abby, a school security officer steps in, resulting in physical and emotional violence against Nevaeh and Jesús. There are no firearms involved. Jesús and Nevaeh are not harmed in a way that requires medical attention. This occurs in Chapter 36 and is mentioned without details in Chapter 37. If you are sensitive to depictions of racism-instigated violence, this part of the story can be skipped for mental health protection.

Cyberbullying: Abby uses nude photos she took of Nevaeh to humiliate her at school. The bullying itself happens in Chapter 36 and the photos are described again in Chapter 38. If you are sensitive to depictions of sexually-focused cyberbullying, this part of the story can be skipped for mental health protection.

What I Would Have Liked to See
Some of the antagonists, especially Nevaeh's father's new girlfriend, are unsubtle in their deviousness and are bordering on sitcom villain levels of evil. Several of them turn out to be at least sympathetic villains: Nevaeh's snobby classmate who she's forced to do science projects with is a jerk because her father is a very true-to-life conservative bigot who is racist, transphobic, and isn't afraid of expressing those opinions loudly. The classmate's outright meanness begins to make sense as we're exposed to her home life and upbringing. I wanted to apply this same understanding of villainy to Nevaeh's father's girlfriend, but she appears to be an uncomfortably evil presence without pathos who is terrible to Nevaeh for no real reason (and cooks disgusting food lol). I definitely don't want her to be forgiven for being an unrepentant home wrecker, but I think she would have been a slimier villain with some subtlety folded in.

My Favorite!
My absolute favorite part of the book was Nevaeh's bat mitzvah. Throughout the book, Díaz skillfully set up the two seemingly opposing sides of Nevaeh's life in such a way that they seemed incompatible, like oil and water. When Nevaeh is going forward with her bat mitzvah even after her father's girlfriend bungles everything about it, I was wondering how on earth this was going to turn out to be something that would carry any sort of significance for Nevaeh. The coming together of all parts of her life into one stunningly unique ceremony brought me to actual tears. The bat mitzvah scene is absolutely beautiful.

TL;DR
When Nevaeh's parents separate, she unsteadily traverses their two separate worlds to come to embrace who she really is.
Was this review helpful?
Although this is a YA book, I greatly enjoyed it as an adult. The teenage characters in this book were all interesting and complex, with varying backgrounds and struggles to understand their place in the world. I thought this was a great coming of age story.
Was this review helpful?
This is a story of a biracial girl growing up in Brooklyn. While I enjoyed that the story included a diverse population, the plot development and writing was weak. I found it hard to finish.
Was this review helpful?
There's a lot to unpack about this novel and the way in which an upper middle class, white-passing, black teenage girl navigates the world, but I felt at times like it was too messy and trying too hard. Some parts are written in prose which I felt like was how the author was tackling hard topics. That's one of my personal pet peeves when YA characters are portrayed as not mature enough to be having serious conversations about race.

I loved the author's note - don't skip over it. It's also narrated by the author in the audiobook.

Thanks to Delacorte Press and Netgalley for a copy to review.

CW: sexual assault
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book and the fact that it was based on the author's lived experiences. Great character development and lots to discuss with my book club.
Was this review helpful?
This was a light and easy read - I read it in one day.

It is a young adult novel that follows Nevaeh Levitz, a biracial young woman who is dealing with the fallout of her Black mother and Jewish father's separation. She leaves her affluent neighbourhood and moves to Harlem where she endures an identity crisis of sorts. Her and her mother move in with the mother's family, who think Nevaeh, who is white passing, is privileged and spoiled.

When she finds her mother's journal in the attic and reads about her history, starts falling in love herself, she realizes the discrimination that her loved ones face and finds that she can make choices and let her voice be heard in support, regardless of her own ethnicity.

I enjoyed the cultural diversity in this book and understood how parents and grandparents can have such an influence on one's upbringing. Nevaeh shares beautiful poetry throughout the book and you really get a sense for her internal struggle.

I think this book really speaks volumes in that we can all help when we see something discriminatory, regardless of our background, just by speaking up, instead of staying silent. It's a very relevant message and the author communicates it very well. The author is biracial so I think that really made Nevaeh's character very realistic and relatable in a way.

I read this book as the chosen book for November's Girly Book Club.
Was this review helpful?
I read this book for the GirlyBookClub as it's the November book.  I haven't been a reader of YA books but part being a part of a book club creates opportunity to read books that you would not self select.  I did enjoy this book,  and I felt that there an interesting discussion and perspective on being bi-racial and the struggle of having two identities.
Was this review helpful?
Colour Me In is a good YA novel and teaches youth at how to look introspectively into their own biases. The main character, Nevaeh is a biracial teen trying to understand her own identity.

While this novel does a good job in spotlighting on the issue of racism. I’m not a big fan of YA so it was hard to relate to the self-absorbedness of the protagonist. However, that’s exactly what a lot of teens are, which is why YA is not my go-to. Not a reflection at all on the writing as Nevaeh’s poetry was beautiful.
Was this review helpful?
This one kind of hit me where I lived with the way she struggles with two identities that the world says should be mutually exclusive.
Was this review helpful?
Really enjoyed this one. Natasha delves into such an important topic that is so often overlooked. Her hilarious, honest twitter presence translates well into the voice of this book.
Was this review helpful?
Natasha Díaz is a debut author who knows first hand about racial identity. In her book Color me In, she introduces us to main character Nevaeh Levitz,  who’s trying to come to terms with being the daughter of a Black mother and Jewish father. She faces family that have harsh opinions of her and as a result, is silent through it all. In the end, she gains her voice when she realizes her true identity is not found in others, but deep within herself. 

Diaz covers racism, poverty, religion, discrimination, and sexual assault, and she does it beautifully. 

I hope Diaz has another book in the works!

NUGGET GAINED: Don’t listen to others voices. Be yourself!

Thank you @netgalley for my digital copy.
Was this review helpful?
Overall, I really liked this book! I loved Nevaeh as a character, and I loved her family, both character-wise and just as a dynamic in general. I really cared about Nevaeh, too. My main issue here is that Nevaeh seemed older than she was, and it made things feel... unrealistic, somehow? I was genuinely surprised when I got to the part about her sixteenth birthday and realized I'd been reading about a fifteen year old the entire time. There are also some characters I really wish had been fleshed out a little better: Stevie, Jesus, Rabbi Sarah, even Abby. They all just felt like something was missing. And Abby was very cliche, I think. Her family, too. Those are really my main complaints, and they weren't unbearable whatsoever. Like I said, I really liked this book, and I'd be interested to read more by Natasha Diaz in the future!
Was this review helpful?
It's an interesting novel focused on a white passing biracial girl. There are great qualities, I just didn't connect. Many of the minor characters didn't speak to me, and the leading lady didn't so there was nothing to keep my attention.
Was this review helpful?