Color Me In | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Color Me In

Author: Natasha Diaz

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 373

Categories: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Black Lives Matter, Bi-racial, Romance, Own Voices

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?

I’m adding more black authors to my reading lists and I knew I had to read this one because it’s about a girl who is half-black and half-Jewish. This story helped opened my eyes to the struggles someone who is biracial could experience.

My Reactions:

My Attention: had my whole attention

World Building: a girl from Harlem and White Plains, New York

Writing Style: main character has such a strong voice, at times story moved slowly

Bringing the Heat: 🔥- Nevaeh’s love story is sweet 

Crazy in Love: it wasn’t the focus of the story, which was nice

Creativity: beautifully done with poetry from Nevaeh’s voice

Mood: open minded 

Triggers: bullying, racism, divorce, depression

My Takeaway: Nevaeh doesn’t know where she fits in and families, marriage, and people in general – are complicated.

  • I love how layered this story is. Nevaeh is struggling to keep it together while her parents go through a divorce. But she is also having an identity crisis because she feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere. The Black Lives Matter movement has begun and protests have been occurring in the streets of NYC, and she’s living at her aunt’s in Harlem because of the divorce. Living with her aunt has awoken a desire to know about that part of her.
  • This is an Own Voices story and I respect Neveah’s struggle to accept both sides of her cultures. She’s always been told by her father that she never had to go to Temple…until now. He’s also telling her she is going to have a Bat Mitzvah. So Neveah feels lost with all these changes happening in her life. I felt her stress – I was stressed out for her! I can see why she acted out at times, but I also wanted to sit down and have a talk with her. Neveah expresses herself beautifully with writing poetry which is included throughout this story.
  • Her romance with Jesus is really cute. I liked that it wasn’t the focus of the book, but that he was there for her.
  • The divorce is a big part of Nevaeh’s life and her mom goes through severe depression. I like when Nevaeh finds her mom’s diary and we get a glimpse of how she met Nevaeh’s dad.
  • I love how Harlem comes alive in this story. I can visualize the street, hear the neighborhood and that festival scene was amazing.
  • We see a lot of instances where prejudice and racism are on display in the streets of New York, and so much at her school with that especially one classmate of hers, Abby. 😒
  • Both Neveah’s parents neglected her while they are separated and going through a divorce. Her mom is depressed and is in bed a lot, which is understandable and her dad…wow, her dad is barely there for her! And he takes the side of his new girlfriend? Like what was that? That frustrated me so much but I know it is realistic. I just wished he realized how much he hurt Neveah with his actions. He comes through somewhat in the end for her but other than that…😞.
  • Neveah makes a lot of mistakes and has to check herself at times. People around her are good at telling her things point blank like her aunt, her twin cousins and her best friend, Stevie. She doesn’t always get it right away but that’s part of the struggle she is dealing with.

Neveah is not perfect, she is struggling, but she is also learning so much and most importantly learning to accept the parts of her that don’t feel like her. The characters in this book from Neveah’s mom, Jesus and Neveah experience many instances of racism in this story which is important to see. This book gave me a full experience through Neveah’s eyes and I think that makes it a wonderful Own Voices story.

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