Cover image for Color me in : a novel
Title:
Color me in : a novel
ISBN:
9780525578239
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
373 pages ; 22 cm.
Summary:
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?
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Summary

Summary

A powerful coming-of-age novel pulled from personal experience 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.

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?

"Absolutely outstanding!" --Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin


Author Notes

Natasha Díaz is a freelance writer and producer. As a screenwriter, Natasha has been a quarterfinalist in the Austin Film Festival and a finalist for both the NALIP Diverse Women in Media Residency Lab at ARC and the Sundance Episodic Story Lab. Her personal essays have been published in the Establishment and HuffPost . Color Me In is her debut young adult novel. Originally from New York City, Natasha now lives in Oakland, California.



natashaerikadiaz.com

@TashiDiaz on Twitter

@NatashaErikaDiaz on Instagram


Reviews 2

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up--Sixteen-year-old Naveah isn't seen by her peers as African American because of her light skin. When her parents separate and she and her mother move in with her grandparents in Harlem, Naveah is forced to recognize that her relationship with her racial identity is complex. As her father watches her relationship with her mother's Baptist family grow, he chooses to complicate matters by deciding that, instead of having a Sweet 16 party, Naveah should celebrate the Bat Mizvah she was never encouraged to have when she was younger. Meanwhile, in Harlem, Naveah begins a relationship with Jesus and struggles with her relationship with her cousins. Her cousins are very aware that because Naveah "passes" she is able to opt out of conversations about race while they cannot. In the midst of all this, Naveah learns some uncomfortable truths about her mother's past. While the author attempts to use journal entries to explain past events, the narrative complexity of the events does not translate well to the journal format and as a result, the narrative is not completely successful. In spite of that, this story of a young woman struggling with her multifaceted identity and the privileges that come with it fills a gap in teen fiction. VERDICT A worthwhile addition to any collection where contemporary realistic teen fiction is in demand. Recommend to fans of Elizabeth Acevedo's The Poet X.--Kristin Lee Anderson, Jackson County Library Services, OR


Kirkus Review

Schisms abound in the life of a half-black, white-passing, Jewish teen in New York City.Since her parents separated, 15-year-old Nevaeh and her mother, who is deeply depressed, have lived in Harlem with her mother's family, headed by her Baptist pastor grandfather. Not to be pushed out, her religiously unobservant father has set Nevaeh up with a rabbi to prepare for a slightly belated bat mitzvah. But rather than help Nevaeh feel more connected to her Jewish heritage, having to study Torah with elementary schoolers just adds to the disjointedness in her life. Her black cousins think she doesn't understand their struggles, and wealthy kids at her fancy school treat her with derision. Her best friend, Stevie, is the one person who gets her, but when she starts dating Jesus, a neighborhood boy (his name's pronounced the Spanish wayand there is not enough angst or Jewish humor paid to that irony), and spending more time pursuing a new passion, poetry, tensions arise. Sophomore year is fraught for Nevaeh, and for the most part debut author Daz wields it smoothly, save for one forced plot device in the form of her mother's old diary. In Daz' skillful hands, the many aspects of Nevaeh's intersectional identity are woven together so that they are, as in real life, inextricable from each other.Broadly appealing and free of the melodrama often associated with half-this, half-that issue books. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Excerpts

Excerpts

I have lived trapped in that moment ever since.   In the dreaded ambiguity   That follows me everywhere I go.   Even here,   In this grimy mirror,   and bitter fluorescent glow.     The electric hiss, like bees caught in a plastic casing, sends shock waves from the sterile lightbulbs in the bathroom of Mount Olivene Baptist Church. The sound travels over the damp off-white tiles, back to my reflection in a mirror so streaked and blurred with soap scum my skin almost blends into the walls behind me. If it weren't for the burst of brown freckles that swarm around my nose and across my cheekbones, I'd be the way I am most of the time: invisible--swallowed up whole by the imaginary bugs and the all-encompassing beige.   Cloudy Pepto-Bismol-pink gel squirts onto me like projectile vomit from the rusted soap dispenser and sends a foamy streak across my light yellow shirt. I go to grab a handful of waxy paper towels piled up on the side of the sink and bump my phone and church program, which I've covered with poetry scribbles, sending them to the ground.   "Damn it!"   My shout echoes through the empty space and I stand with my eyes pinched shut, ready for Jesus Christ to float into the ladies' room and smite me for using foul language in his house. But no one comes. The organ upstairs begins to play, accompanied by the choir. They drag these hymns out for like, twenty minutes. Four sentences that repeat over and over and over, gaining in volume and excitement and conviction with each go-around.     Take me to the water   Take me to the water   Take me to the water   There to be baptized     This is the song before closing remarks. I need to get moving before the Gray Lady Gang rushes in here for their weekly gossip session, which, for the record, is way scarier than the reincarnation of the lord and savior.   Every Sunday, the posse of eighty- to one-hundred-year-old ladies shows up in matching skirt suits and refined wigs, ready to talk shit and bully folks in the name of Christ. The whole congregation knows that they kick out anyone who dares use the bathroom during their regularly scheduled meeting with a swat of a cane and a glare so rigid that their victim is liable to cross over right here in the bathroom.   "Did you see what she had the nerve to wear today, Eveline? She's a two-bit hussy, if you ask me. Stuffed into that getup like a breakfast sausage . . ."   Their raspy voices rush under the bathroom door with the breeze from the fans in the hallway. I'm too late.   Currently, the talk of the town is Miss Clarisse, a woman in her sixties who owns a clothing boutique that specializes in form-fitting, outlandish attire best reserved for '90s Lil' Kim videos. She is back on the prowl for love after her fling with Pastor Davis ended abruptly a few weeks ago--the Grays threatened to circulate a petition for his retirement, deeming it inappropriate for a community leader to be seen with her in public. Miss Clarisse isn't exactly helping her case, showing up to church every Sunday in outfits so tight it's a miracle when she doesn't pop right out of them.   Their murmurs move closer, so eager to dive into the juicy updates that they can't even wait to get inside the room. The pounding from their thick heels against the floor counts down to our impending faceoff. I have to save myself.   I burst through the door just before they arrive and walk past them without making eye contact as I rush to the stairs.   "Humph!" grunts the oldest and roughest GLG member, Miss Eveline. Her straight, chin-length black wig sways ever so slightly under a wide-brimmed lavender hat adorned with netting and an embroidered silver rose.   "They can't be satisfied takin' our houses, now these white folks got to come up here into our churches too?" Oretha, a light-skinned woman who is the tallest and spriteliest in the bunch, asks.   Miss Eveline smacks Oretha's hand with a guttural "Shush!"   "That there is Nevaeh, Pastor Paire's granddaughter," Miss Eveline says. "The Jewish one," I hear, before the bathroom door closes behind them with a sharp click. Excerpted from Color Me In by Natasha Diaz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.