Color Me In by Natasha Diaz: An Honest Coming-of-Age Story of a White-Passing Teen

I knew this was going to be good, but I didn’t expect such a unique and individual story about identity.

Color Me In revolves around Neveah who is a biracial Black and Jewish fifteen year old girl who’s trying to understand her identity, how she fits in the world, and deal with her parent’s divorce issues.

It was a really complex look at what it’s like to be a white-passing POC, as well as a coming of age story. I loved how Diaz made it feel almost slice of life, honestly, with Neveah’s struggles. It felt natural and flowed well.

Diaz weaves a complex set of struggles together for Neveah.

I thought the way Diaz mixed so many things together in the novel was really well done. It didn’t feel too complicated to understand and even though it was definitely viewed as overwhelming for Neveah, it didn’t necessarily detract from the story’s enjoyability.

From friendship struggles with Stevie, butting heads with her cousin, getting a boyfriend, dealing with her mother’s depression, managing her father and his assistant who he cheated on her mom with, navigating preparation for her bat mitzvah and new introduction to Judaism, performing her poetry, and dealing with her mean ex-best friend Abby from school.

It sounds like a lot and definitely is for Neveah, but for the reader, it was a near seamless integration of all of it together into one big story. I liked that there were layers to the conflict–not just the physical ones i.e. bullying or the poetry, but also more emotional and nuanced ones–like the one with her cousin where she has to learn to own up to the privilege she has as someone who passes as white.

Right from the get-go, we really get to see a slice of life into it, how Neveah’s black mother is often mistaken as her nanny. It’s definitely got its sad moments, but overall I loved how Diaz shaped the message really subtly.

There were a few moments when I felt like the emotions changed too quickly.

It wasn’t absolutely perfect because there were a few moments where I felt like the story was rushed and Neveah would have a reaction that could have been developed a little more, but overall that happened relatively rarely (like three or four times max).

It was more of a “hmm how did she get angry so fast?” that happened, but nothing too glaring or shocking that made the pacing get thrown wildly off track.

But I loved how spoken poetry was used to convey a large part of the message.

Not only was Neveah’s poetry extremely powerful and full of meaning and introspection, but also it’s used a little more than the actual words.

We also get to see Neveah spending too much time on her poetry on stage and not necessarily recognize her privilege, which was really interesting. I think the way Diaz dissected Neveah’s privilege as someone who is white-passing was done well and in a nuanced manner that you wouldn’t necessarily recognize some of Neveah’s misdeeds initially. I loved this aspect of the story.

Overall, would recommend to anyone looking for accurate biracial rep.

Color Me In was complex and nuanced and a wonderful read. I would definitely recommend for a strong coming of age story with commentary on race and finding your place when you don’t fit into people’s boxes.

I’m excited for what Diaz writes next!

4 stars

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Neveah has a lot going on–her parents are on track for divorce and she’s switching between her mom and dad’s houses, her dad is forcing her to prepare for a bat mitzvah, and she’s struggling with things at school with her best friend Stevie potentially leaving and her ex-best friend Abby tormenting her.

She doesn’t know where she fits in the world–her biracial half-black half-white background meaning she doesn’t fit well into boxes.

Neveah will have to not only have to handle the relationships in her life, but also find herself along the way.

Content Warning: police brutality, racism, cyberbullying (feat. barely concealed underage nudes), bullying

add to goodreads here

Thank you so much to Natasha Diaz and Random House for providing me with an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review!

What books with #OwnVoices biracial books would you recommend?

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