Monday, November 30, 2020

YA Review: Color Me In by Natasha Diaz

Title: Color Me In

Author: Natasha Diaz

Year Published: 2019

Category: YA fiction
Pages: 384
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map)USA (NY)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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 because she inadvertently passes as white, her cousin thinks she's too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices African Americans face on a daily basis. In the meantime, 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. But rather than take a stand, Nevaeh does what she's always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.

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 her own voice. And choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she decide once for all who and where she is meant to be?
 
Review: In the first third of the book I figured it would be a typical YA novel with some romance, divorcing parents, and a girl who lived in 2 worlds due to being biracial. I as okay with that and was enjoying it.

In the middle third of the novel, I felt a bit distanced from the story and wasn't sure where it was going, but for the last third, I raced through the book as the story came to a head and it went to a place I didn't see coming. That's a good thing.

Nevaeh really is caught between two worlds: that of her white Jewish father and that of her Black Baptist mother. One lives in the suburbs and one lives in the city. And Nevaeh doesn't really fit into either world completely. Most people think she's white. Sort of. Until she's at school where it's made clear that she doesn't fit in. I felt like the author captured the life of a multiracial person really well, so when I read that this story is her life fictionalized, it made sense. It's well done because she's lived it.

I like the way the author shows that it isn't just strangers that make assumptions, but family and friends as well. Nevaeh's experiences of navigating the world in her paler skin allow her privilege, but confusion and ostracism. A book about colorism is a good and important.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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