Color Me In

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 20 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

Author:   Natasha Diaz
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never really thought much about her roots or her racial identity, but when her black mother and Jewish father split up and she and her mom move in with her mother’s family in Harlem, she comes face-to-face with it. Nevaeh loves this family and wants to be a part of them, but one of her cousins hates that she passes for white and doesn’t understand the injustices their family has to face.

When she spends time with her dad—and his new girlfriend—her dad pushes for her to embrace her Jewish side—the side he never gave much attention to himself, guaranteeing her life at her posh private school becomes even tougher. She doesn’t know which side of her heritage is really her.

Then Nevaeh falls in love and starts to realize she has a voice, a voice she can use to speak out against the hate and oppression she encounters every day, as she embraces her newfound identity and all the joy—and sorrow—it brings with it.

The journey of self-discovery and realization Nevaeh experiences is riveting and the opposition and prejudice she experiences is infuriating. Her entire world has been turned upside down, and she just wants to find where she belongs, but everyone opposes her, making her more confused than ever. The power and strength she uncovers when she embraces her true identity is inspiring and uplifting. This is a fantastic read!

Natasha Diaz was born in New York and lives there still. Color Me In is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Delacorte Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
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COLOR ME IN by Natasha Diaz is a new young adult novel and I am honestly having trouble deciding if I would recommend it or not. Some positives are the ideas that the main character, a high school sophomore named Nevaeh, is bi-racial and has a mixed religious heritage (Christianity and Judaism); plus, her main friend, Stevie, is very interested in the fine arts and is competing for a dance scholarship. These are the types of characters not often featured in realistic fiction for middle or high school students and we need to see more of them.  The biggest negative however, is that Nevaeh is not at all like-able.  As Stevie says to her, "It's always about what you need and you want.... I had one shot to get into that program and you couldn't even support me. I needed you, and you're so full of yourself you couldn't see it." In addition, her parents are in the midst of divorcing and her Mom is almost totally checked out and depressed. Her Dad has suddenly (and manipulatively) decided that Nevaeh should be studying for a bat mitzvah even though she is much older than the traditional age. That provides a reason for her to develop a relationship with a young female rabbi (another positive aspect) who, however, also berates Nevaeh for her attitudes and actions: "I think you spend a lot of time complaining about what's out of your control instead of considering and appreciating what you've got."  School Library Journal suggests this debut book for grades 8 and up and I think that it would probably have more appeal for students in late middle school and very early high school although there is some casual alcohol and substance abuse.
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Color Me In by Natasha Diaz
Color Me In
by Natasha Diaz (Goodreads Author)
Read  
Read in August 2019
3☆

ARC received from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All of my opinions are my own, and are in no way affected by the exchange. 

Let me first start by saying why I requested this ARC. I am a 25 year old Caribbean African and White woman who grew up in America. As a child, I never felt completely comfortable in any social group. I always felt either too white for the black kids or too black for the white kids. I have several vivid memories of people saying things about my mixed race or how I was somehow wrong for being biracial. It took me years to feel whole/comfortable enough in my skin and with my genetics. I was excited about a book that featured a biracial woman coming to terms with her identity. 

Ultimately I found this book just...fine. Perhaps I am too old to feel the way the main character is anymore? Or maybe I dont connect to her as much as I had hoped? For some reason I did not connect to the story at all. The writing was all over the place for me. At some points I felt that the story was lyrical, while other times there were choppy sentences which pulled me out of the story. I think this book can be very impactful for some people and I am beyond grateful that there are more diverse stories coming out but this wasnt for me. :/
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Anyone that can read this book and still not understand the importance of own voices literature just isn’t trying anymore. There is no one that could have written this that hadn’t lived it or something close to it and I don’t care what anyone says.

        Nevaeh Levitz always thought she had an idea who she was… Until her mother and father split and she sees that the life she always had in the suburbs isn’t the only one she could have had. Nevaeh wants to get to know her mother’s family and find out more about her biracial background. As she grows, she realizes that she can’t do what she’s always done and stay silent when things get hard. She realizes she has a choice like everyone else… To accept all of herself or only the parts people can see.

       The number one thing I like about coming of age stories is the feeling of knowing the character inside and out. I felt such a connection to Nevaeh, not because I experienced things she did (but trust me when I say, I have) but because I just felt like I knew her. I felt like I was learning about her along with her. If that makes any sense at all.

        The thing I liked most about this book was also its downfall. Because this is a coming of age story, the pacing is off. As Nevaeh learns more and more about herself, that’s how the plot advances, and sometimes it leaves a lull in the story to where not much is happening. I realized this when I saw how long it took me to actually read the story. I can normally finish a book in 3 days, but this one took about 5 because I kept putting it down to do other things.

     The one thing that kept bringing me back was the writing style. Diaz has BEAUTIFUL words that I really liked reading. I remember writing down large chunks of this book because there were so many quotes that I just adored. I think I would enjoy listening to this as an audio because I’d like to hear her words spoken out loud. I’m sure they sound like a song. Especially the written words part.

        This book had it’s ups and downs, but with the great own voices portrayal and showing what it’s like to find yourself if you thought you already knew, you can tell there’s more ups than downs. This is the type of book that I would put on my recommended school reads. Believe me when I say, everyone should read it!
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While this book is a representation of a biracial girl and an interracial family the way is expressed and written wasn't for me. I know that being white in a black family is not the best and people can make hurtful comments, and vice-versa, but the comments were too often and too much and got me mad. I found her cousins to be annoying and they feel like they were above her just because they were black while she was white.

On the other hand, I like the mixture of cultures, how they were part of her life. As well as the integration of a diary entry and poems. The fact that the author put so much of her in this book without being her voice only (I am referring that her characters have their own voices and you can see her story without being overwhelmed of just reading/listening to her voice) is amazing for a debut novel. I like how the author showed parts of both cultures in separate and mixed parts and how she said it was true to her story and that is the most important part for me about the whole story. 

I think is a book most people would enjoy, and some would feel represented and identified with it. But it wasn't for me because I couldn't stand the characters, not the main character because I could understand somehow why she did somethings (others I couldn't understand), but I was so annoyed by her cousins, aunts and the women of the church that it took the enjoyment of the book. Besides that, I enjoyed how it ended. And, I loved the letter to the readers, how the author opened up to the readers. 

I would recommend this book to those who need or would like to read something that would empower who they are and who their families are. Even thought this book wasn't exactly for me I can not wait to see what Natasha Díaz come up with, because her witting style is beautiful.
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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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Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound, The Book Depository, The Ripped Bodice and Amazon are affiliate links. If you buy through those links, LFAI will make a small amount of money off of the sale.
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A coming of age story about Nevaeh.
She is biracial. Her mom is black, her dad is white. They are also different religions, her mom is a baptist and her father is Jewish. Neither parent practiced their religion after they got married. But now they are divorced and Nevaeh is trying to define herself.

She is going to a very upscale private school. She passes as white. 
When she’s with her mom, she’s in Harlem with her mom’s family. She never knew anyone from her mom’s family except her grandmother. 
When she’s at school, she is one of the only biracial students and doesn’t feel like she fits in.
When she’s with her mom, she doesn’t feel black enough.

Neither of her parents offers her any support at all.
She goes to church with her mom’s Baptist family. As a reaction to this, her dad decides she should have a bat mitzvah.
It felt kind of manipulative of him. Like he was only doing it so she wasn’t a Baptist like her mom’s family. 

Her mom is a mess about the divorce. She’s basically unable to get out of bed.
Her dad already has a new girlfriend.

While she’s struggling to find herself and define herself, she feels like she’s doing it alone.

I actually liked this even more once I read the author’s note. This was actually based on her life.

I thought it was really interesting. Thought provoking and well written.

I got to read an early copy from NetGalley. Thanks!
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We are introduced to a 16 year old girl name Neveah who is biracial,  Jewish and African American. Her parents  are divorced and forced to moved to Harlem from her suburb home in NYC. She moves in with her extended family only to have her cousins dislike her because they think she privileged and looks more white than black with perfect hair ( I can remember kids not liking me in school because (in their words) I have "white people hair". Which really did bother me. I guess as an African American your hair is only to look a certain way). Her father also wants her to have a belated  Bar Mitzvah and start attending  Temple. To educate her and be more connected with their heritage, and because of all this  she now struggles with her identity. 

 One Day Neveah travels up to her attic and finds her mothers diary and discovers reasons as to why her parents got divorced and more about her mother's struggles in her marriage.  

I really enjoyed this coming of age debut novel. I loved character development, it was beautifully written and feel like many can relate to this story.  I would so recommend this book. 

Thank you so much for my copy.
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Thank you @prhinternational for the free e-book!
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This ARC was provided for review, but in no way affects the following impartial and unbiased review:
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Firstly, I would like to add a note that, as a mixed-race kid myself, this book meant the world to me. It is so very important, don't miss it!
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4,5*
Pros: Beautiful description and writing style. Mixed-race lead and PoC characters. Invaluable take into colorism and the hardships of fitting in when your skin color sets you apart. Wholesome and heart-healing moments. Talks about divorce, grief and healing, different religions and cultures. Beautiful and empowering snippets of poetry. Important notes focused in equal rights and police brutality.
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Cons: The self-centered and mean nature of the lead character almost defeated what she was fighting for.
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I was interested in this book, because I have a biracial child. As I read this book, it prompted me to recall a few uncomfortable moments I had experienced myself. For instance, when my daughter was younger,  strangers asked me if I went to China to adopt her, and when she was older, she was mistaken for my romantic partner, but it was never assumed that she was my daughter. I can only imagine situations like these being a lot harder on a child, and I was really keen to learn about Diaz's experiences.

The demise of her parents' marriage was accompanied by an upheaval in Nevaeh's life. Following the split, she lived with her mother's estranged family, and her new circumstances forced Nevaeh to question who she was and where she belonged.

She had grown up in the suburbs and attended an upper crust prep school, where she was one of the few people of color, but because she was white-passing, she felt like an outsider when she moved to Harlem. Not only was Nevaeh biracial, but she was also pulled in two directions religiously. Her grandfather was the paster of a Baptist church, while her father was Jewish. She seemed to have one foot in several different worlds and didn't feel as though she belonged to any.

Nevaeh's struggle with all these identities were explored deftly by Diaz, and her yearning for someone to claim her as their own just broke my heart. I was pleased that her mother's family were there to support Nevaeh as she navigated this difficult path, and though she encountered a lot of disappointments and harsh realities, she grew and blossomed along the way.

This book tackled many issues such as colorism, racism, mental health, and bullying, but it was Nevaeh and her family who stole my heart.

Nevaeh's mother's family were all so well drawn and served as catalysts and guides for her personal journey. The family scenes ranged from tense to celebratory to humorous, and it was with them supporting her, that Nevaeh made such huge leaps and bounds towards figuring out her complex identity.

Overall: A beautiful and thought-provoking look at one young woman's search to understand who she was, what she believed, and where she belonged.
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“It’s hard to hear people imply that you can’t be who you know you are because your reality doesn’t jive with how they’ve been taught to see the world.”

There isn’t a person of color that can say they don’t understand this sentiment. Color Me In is such a necessary read for anyone that is interested in what it feels like to travel in spaces unsure of where you belong and/or fit in. Too white for some folks and too brown for others, it’s a story that many can relate to. 

“I want to make a person feel so loved that they aren’t afraid to share everything, even the ugly, dirty parts of life that no one wants to admit.”

The good mark of fiction is one that forces you take a step back and reflect on your own life. Diaz might be a debut author but she has mastered what so many veterans have failed to do. Color Me In hits on all cylinders. It contains race issues, class issues, religious differences, family dynamics, and love. But, the most important facet of Color Me In is the journey that one must take to say, “this is me and you will accept me for who I am!”

I don’t do this too often but this is a book that I definitely recommend for others to read!
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Ah, what a good book. Navaeh Levitz, a high school sophomore, is mixed -race- Black, with Liberian and Jamaican roots, and White with Jewish roots. Feeling completely out of place with both identities, she struggles to find herself while dealing with a former best friend turned bully, a new boyfriend, a best friend who’s feeling like a third wheel, a belated Bat Mitzvah and her parents’ divorce. Her plate? Full. She finds solace in her poetry, and reading it was possibly my favorite part. It was beautiful and creative, and definitely shows off Diaz’s writing chops. It’s wonderful to watch Navaeh find herself and learn that she doesn’t have to fit in a box, and she is beyond what people see on the outside. I sincerely wish this book existed when I was young and also struggled with my own mixed identity, and it was exciting to see Asian/White mixed (like me!) representation in her best friend, Stevie.
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Semi-autobiographical account from debut author Natasha Diaz follows the life of Nevaeh as she is dealing with the extreme fallout from the divorce of her parents and the difficulties of trying to find her identity as a biracial teen. She is too white living with her family in Harlem, but then too black for her private school and her Jewish roots. After all these years of quietly blending in with the crowd, Neveah is speaking up and using her voice for good.

A lot of times with main characters you can see their faults and recognize when they've handed a situation poorly, but this girl was continually being walked over by everyone in her life. I felt so angry for her! I wanted to scream into this book. Everyone thought they knew what was best for Neveah, without even consulting her about it first. The author did a fantastic job with character progression—not only with Neveah, but also with other minor characters like her cousins and crush, but especially her mother.

 My one issue with this book is pretty big ,but not big enough for me to not have liked the book as is: part of me wishes this was split into two books. There was so much back and forth between the two sides of the family, without them interacting, that I think the two storylines were strong enough to standalone. It would allow readers to go deeper into  both sides of Neveah’s life. It doesn't even have to be about the same girl, I just can see two books: one detailing a biracial girl discovering things about her mother and her mother's side of the family AND another book about a biracial girl getting in touch with her Jewish family and having a belated bat mitzvah. 

I really, really enjoyed this book and thought Neveah was a wonderful protagonist that I was constantly rooting for.
 
ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This is one of those super timely books that deals with such important themes, but I'm worried that it tried to deal with too many at the same time.

Don't get me wrong, this book hit a deep part of me. I, too, can relate to having a garbage father who cheats nonstop. I can relate to not really having a space to fit in (despite being an average cis white girl in a rural area). Plus it's all so well-written!

Neveah deals with so much crap at her private school, it's ridiculous. I was amazed so much went unchallenged. Her cousin Jordan challenges Neveah's lack of challenging, basically calling her complacent since she's white-passing.

Neveah's own father is so shockingly racist. He always seems to conveniently forget that his own daughter is black. But he still pretty much forces her to go through with a belated bat mitzvah.

The only characters I truly enjoyed were Jesus, Neveah's boyfriend, and Rabbi Sarah. Despite that, I still really enjoyed the story. It fits perfectly within our current political climate, but everything still turns out okay. Plus I loved that we get to read Neveah's own poems, as they provide more insight to her feelings.

A well-written story that fits so well in our current climate, I give Color Me In 4 out of 5 sour Jelly Bellies.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Nevaeh is caught between two worlds, literally. Her parents have recently separated, causing her to have to split her time between her mother’s family in her grandfather’s brownstone in Harlem and her childhood home with her father in White Plains. Not only is she shuttling between the two homes, but suddenly she’s caught in the middle of a war she didn’t even realize existed. While her cousins and aunt are exposing her to her Black heritage and her mother has completely checked out of parenting and life itself, suddenly her father takes an interest in making sure she knows she’s Jewish as well. This doesn’t come from his desire to share his heritage with her, but rather prevent her from becoming a “black girl” since it’s clear he’s never seen her as one thanks to her fair-skinned complexion. To combat the influence of her Black Baptist family, he insists that she begin taking Hebrew lessons and prepare for her Bat Mitzvah, which is coming about 3 years too late since she’s turning 16 in a few months. As if this weren’t enough, her cousin Jordan is constantly reminding her that she doesn’t exactly belong in the Black community, at least from Nevaeh’s point of view, and it only gets worse when Neveah attracts the attention of Jordan’s crush Jesus. All of these events begin to swirl around Neveah in a way that suffocates her and the only way she can find solace is in the poetry she writes and her mother’s journal, which she discovers in her grandfather’s attic.

First off, I think it’s important for me to say that I absolutely loved this book. It wasn’t perfect and it certainly isn’t my story or experience, but it’s clear that the author put her own story, heart, and soul into this. You have to have a level of respect for someone willing to be that vulnerable in their work. 

Second, I want to say that it’s clear along the way that Nevaeh is an unreliable narrator. Her experience is certainly hers and so the way she sees her mother, her cousins, her best friend and her new life in Harlem, is clearly biased. She’s never been confronted with her blackness or her privilege before by other black people or people of color and it puts her on the defense. She’s willing to swap places with those around her in an attempt to be accepted and have what she thinks is an easier life, but doesn’t exactly understand that her darker skinned family members or her best friend, who is also biracial (Chinese and white) have their own trials and tribulations because of the color of their skin as well. It’s not just her and it’s a lesson that she has trouble learning. 

While it’s clear that Nevaeh is seeing her mom and black family members in a bit of a skewed light because of her experiences and insecurities, I think that for the first time in her life, she’s actually seeing her father very clearly. She’s realizing what a selfish and destructive man he actually is. I have to say that the scenes with her father were some of the most frustrating ones because he was just completely trash. Every self serving, ignorant white man who thinks he’s a savior can be seen in Nevaeh’s father. That’s clear through her mother’s journal and Nevaeh’s on experiences with him as the book progresses. 

The other extremely frustrating piece of this book was the racism that Nevaeh faced at school, but let’s be honest, that was done on purpose. There’s one particular white girl at her school who says the most revolting things and I swear I just wanted someone to do serious bodily harm to her just to shut her up. Please watch out for that and protect yourself because when I say phrases like “nappy headed” and “thug” and “ghetto” are thrown around by the white characters in this book, I’m not kidding. It’s all done to show that despite the fact that Nevaeh is technically “passing”, anyone who knows her actual heritage makes it clear that it’s unacceptable and that even people who are “passing” experience racism from their white peers.

I won’t give away too much more about the book, though I will say that her mother’s journal depicts sexual assault so be careful of that if it’s triggering for you. 

All in all, I think that Nevaeh’s story was a great one. She was frustrating, sometimes selfish and at times just plain ignorant, but as we move through this transition in her life with her, she begins to learn not only what it means to be Jewish, but a black woman in America as well. I think one of my favorite things about this book is that though there’s romance in it, it doesn’t overpower the rest of the story, but serves as just another new discovery and aspect in Nevaeh’s life.

Please be sure to go pick up Color Me In by Natasha Diaz when it’s released on August 20th and let me know what you think!
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Color Me In follows the story of Nevaeh, a teenage biracial girl whose parents are going through a divorce. Since she is white-passing, Nevaeh has always had trouble with her identity, not knowing quite where she fits; now, after her parents' separation, she feels like she must choose between her mother's Black, Liberian roots and her father's Jewish roots. What results is a story rife with internal conflict, attempting to answer - or work through - some hard-hitting questions about carving out a place in the world.

I thought Diaz touches on some crucial topics quite beautifully, especially her exploration of relative privilege. There were several moments where Nevaeh comes to realize that her light skin prevents her from being subjected to a lot of the injustices that her darker-skinned family and friends are subjected to. But this doesn't mean that she has it easy. Recognizing your privilege as well as your marginalization, and exploring both, was a major theme in the novel, and Diaz's handling of it was in-depth and meticulous.

The novel's emphasis on familial and platonic relationships was also a central part of the story; Nevaeh's dynamics with her parents, best friend, cousins, and grandparents were all very present in the narrative. Each of these relationships came with a certain tension, and the result was a "full" narrative that felt like it was complex, nuanced and realistic. I do wish we had gotten more roundedness (or closure) in her relationship with her father, however.

But despite its positives, the story was let down by its flat side characters. Nevaeh was a wonderfully developed and flawed protagonist, but many of the side characters were just there. Some of them felt like caricatures, there for our protagonist to realize Truths, but not having a life of their own. I thought Diaz's decision to explore Nevaeh's parents' relationship through her mother's journal entries had a ton of promise, but the journal entries weren't written like journal entries. They had the same voice and tone as Nevaeh's narrative, so the whole story - despite being written in multiple formats - felt a little monotone. There's also a romance, which I felt wasn't as developed as the other relationships in the book were, and could have been explored more.

Content warnings apply for: sexual assault (forced oral sex, depicted on the page), depression.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a debut definitely worth reading. This book tackles race and other topics facing our society today. While there's not really a 'plot' each of the characters has their own thing going and aren't depending on the MC. The pacing is also a bit slow, but worth the wait. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would definitely like to read the authors next book.

Thank you, NetGalley for the opportunity to read/review this book in exchange for an honest review.
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DNF 43% - I was super into this book when I started it, but after the story really got going, I found myself disliking just about every character. I thought the premise of having Neveah find her mother's journal was interesting, but the journal entries didn't sound at all like journal entries. Perhaps the author should've had a split perspective book instead of trying to use journal entries, because that's how it read. In the end, I set the book down and had no desire to pick it up again.
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You know when you read those contemporaries that you don't expect to relate to on a heart aching level, but they just surprise you in so many ways? That was Color Me In for me. 

I requested this book from Netgalley for 1. that beautiful cover and 2. because I think it is important to keep my reading diverse and read ownvoices stories from many different kinds of people. Color Me In follows a mixed race Jewish-African American girl in high school who's parents have just separated. The book is about her journey finding where she fits in in all the different aspects of her life, coming to terms with her parents not being exactly who she thought they were, friendship, and first love. 

I was hooked on this story from the very beginning. I've never experienced a lot of the things Nevaeh experiences in this book, but I immediately related to her problems with her parents. I don't think I have ever read a book about someone who's parents are currently going through a divorce and it just continued to pull at my heart strings in a very validating way. We love getting validation from books. That was, of course, not the only thing I adored about this book. 

I cannot believe this was a debut. The writing was just absolutely exquisite. It had such a good pace and I loved the way the chapters were set up. There was always something happening in the plot. Sometimes it felt like there was so much at once, but I thought it was done very well and that is very realistic for the mind of a high school girl. My only issue with this book is I felt the main antagonists were a bit too one note and could have been fleshed out a little more. Sometimes these high school girls just felt like super villains and I think some more development from those characters would have been amazing to the plot.  

Overall, I just really loved this book and I highly recommend it.
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3.5 stars.

The messages in this book are powerful; I have so much respect for the courage it takes to not only write about such personal experiences, but to put them out into the world. 

I really enjoyed the premise, catching Nevaeh in a pivotal period of her life. And I really, really wanted to sympathize with her, because she finds herself in some pretty tough circumstances. Being a teenager — trying to figure out how to be a good friend and family member and person; figuring out what you want to do in life and where you fit into the world; etc. — is hard enough without the social/societal isolation and privilege-based guilt Nevaeh struggles with.

But for the vast majority of the book, she's incredibly judgmental of other people and focuses on how their problems/wants inconvenience her; she actively and repeatedly chooses to do things that are inconsiderate and/or selfish. 

This is a narrative about personal growth, so this depiction is understandable and definitely believable, but it was so frustrating to read. 

I also wasn't really a fan of Nevaeh's writing. (The preface calls it poetry, but I don't know if it's intended to be; if it is, it's a very free-verse style without rhyme schemes or, as far as I could tell, any kind of meter.) I appreciate these passages' contribution to the themes of identity and of speaking out, but to be quite honest I skimmed them. 

All that said, the #ownvoices rep and social themes of this book come through clearly, and there are some wonderful bonding moments. Nevaeh's personal journey is profound — and I don't think anyone could come away from this book without learning a thing or two.
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