Color Me In is a powerful and striking debut from Natasha Diaz. For anyone who’s felt torn between parts of our identity or unsure what we can call our own, Color Me In is for you.
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?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Color Me In is one of those books that draws you in. It demands to be read. Diaz presents an emotional and heart wrenching story about wondering our place in the world and our family. It presents a marriage and family in conflict. Those unsaid moments of family taboos, closed off questions, awkward silence, and things best left unsaid, or not. Color Me In perfectly develops and explores that feeling of being pulled in different directions when we don’t know what we can claim as our own. What parts of our identity can we express?
Nevaeh’s Personal Growth
As someone who grew up adopted in a family that never looked like me, and a setting where very few people looked like me – or had similar experiences, I could deeply identify with Nevaeh’s feelings of being pulled in different directions. The dissonance between the home we grew up in and our sense of home. Color Me In is a multi-faceted story that delivers on multiple layers – Nevaeh’s own personal journey with her identity and friends, the unfolding of the relationship between Nevaeh’s parents, and her own growing relationship to her family.
Nevaeh’s feelings of not fitting in with her family, being torn in two, deeply resonated with me. The experiences of unfamiliarity with your name, with not knowing how to identify, or people being confused by your heritage. Throughout Color Me In, Nevaeh has to not only examine her own privilege, but also figure out how she can own her own identity and heritage. The difference between speaking out and listening. Diaz explores these issues of identities that we feel unsure about embracing through multiple characters as they examine the pieces of their identity not linked by blood or the behavior we undergo at the hands of those we love. As if blood grants us an inherent belief in belonging.
Whether it be the haunting poetry, Nevaeh’s tender and emotional journey through her privilege and heritage, her family’s new relationships to each other, or her relationship with her best friend, Color Me In will hook you. All while Diaz presents a story of friendship, family, and our own personal journey. I cannot recommend Color Me In more and I can’t wait to have my own copy.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of COLOR ME IN, US Only.a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the Author
Natasha Díaz is a born and raised New Yorker, currently residing in Brooklyn, NY with her tall husband. She spends most of her days writing with no pants on and alternating between E.R. and Grey’s Anatomy binges. Formerly a reality TV producer, Natasha is both an author and screenwriter. Her scripts have placed as a quarterfinalist in the Austin Film Festival and a finalist for both the NALIP Diverse Women in Media Fellowship and the Sundance Episodic Story Lab. Her essays can be found in The Establishment and Huffington Post. Raised by a first generation half-Liberian/half-Brazilian mother and a Jewish-American father, Natasha writes stories about people who don’t fit into the boxes society imposes, and instead, create their own as they search for their places in the world. Her first novel, Color Me In, will be published by Delacorte Press/Random House August, 20 2019.
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