Thursday, August 22, 2019

Color Me In by Natasha Diaz

ARC, 365 pages           
Release Date: August 20, 2019
Published by: Delacorte Press
Read from: August 16-21, 2019
Source: Traded with Emma at Miss Print
TW: Police Brutality
For fans of: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Romance, Person of Color MC, Realistic Fiction, YA

     Debut YA author Natasha Diaz 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?


       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.
"My marbled notebook is almost filled with my secrets, like I'm Harriet the spy. [...] I leaf through the pages and fall back into my memories and words like I'm in a time machine. When I look at this book, I get a warm feeling. My words are like keys that unlock untapped resources within myself. They are my lifeline."
pg. 32
        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.
"People are always going to want to split you into pieces so they can feel more comfortable with who you are and I am sorry no one has ever sat you down to prepare you for that."
pg. 99
       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.
"It is a feeling I know well, especially when in the presence of white women. I look so much like them, and yet, when it comes down to it, I am never good enough. Not for them."
pg. 118
        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.
"By my grandmother's definition, [...] identity is less valid than mine because no Jewish blood runs through her veins- a sting I know all too well. It's hard to hard people imply that you can't be who you are because your reality doesn't jive with how they've been taught to see the world. it chips away at you; it sent me into the shadows to hide for the majority of my life."
pg. 224
     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.
"I want to stop being expected to give people the benefit of the doubt as I take a seat at the table I would never have been invited to if I were three shades closer to my mom. I want to stop feeling like an imposter in my own skin, undeserving of my rich blended heritage."
pg. 293
        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!
Overall, I give this


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