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Natasha Diaz

Author of Color Me In

1+ Work 204 Members 8 Reviews

About the Author

Includes the name: Natasha Díaz

Works by Natasha Diaz

Color Me In (2019) 204 copies, 8 reviews

Associated Works

Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora (2021) — Contributor — 119 copies, 2 reviews
The Grimoire of Grave Fates (2023) — Contributor — 90 copies, 1 review
House Party (Joy Revolution) (2023) — Contributor — 18 copies

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Reviews

Took a little bit to get into and then the story flowed off the page. It was a really good book, taking a close look at a girl facing the issues of being biracial and coming to terms with accepting both sides of her, the black and the Jewish sides and figuring out how both fit into her life. The side first love story didn’t detract from the story. It was very eye opening for me as a reader and definitely for the main character. Once she opened her eyes, she learned that she wasn’t the only one struggling with her identity. Definitely one I would recommend.… (more)
 
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Z_Brarian | 7 other reviews | Dec 12, 2022 |
This is probably closer to a 4.5..

Some books just surprise you in the best of ways. When I added this book to my TBR, I only expected to read a nice YA coming of age contemporary, but wow did I get so much more. I’m emotional and delighted and thoroughly impressed, so let me share my thoughts.

Nevaeh’s life is completely turned upside down due to her parent’s separation and she is struggling to find her place in this new reality. She wants to fit in with her mother’s very religious Baptist family living in Harlem, but she has never the chance or maybe even desire to explore her Black identity before, so she doesn’t know how to do it. She tries to channel her confusion, her rage and her feelings into her writing but she is still afraid to show it to anyone. But slowly with the help of her extended family, the friends she makes in the vibrant community and getting to know her mother better through her old journal, she starts expressing herself through spoken word poetry. She is also initially hesitant to understand her Jewish identity but that slowly changes because of the influence of the very interesting Rabbi Sarah. I liked how the author shows us all facets of Nevaeh - she isn’t perfect, just a realistic teenager with faults, who doesn’t know everything, makes mistakes and can’t even understand why she is wrong - but ultimately she owns up her mistakes and tries to correct them, strives to be better.

Every other character in the book also has their own arc. They all influence Nevaeh in her growth, but they have lives and their own issues independent of her. That’s why this book is more reading about the daily lives of a family and their friends, rather than just about the main character. Her mother’s despair because of the divorce and her deep rooted anxieties are cleverly integrated into the story through the journal, which was also probably one of the hardest parts of the book to read. Jordan is her vivacious cousin who has dreams and ideas for her future, but has to constantly fight for her opportunities because the world doesn’t think a young Black woman deserves them. Stevie is Nevaeh’s best friend and I just adored his wit and his confidence to go for what he wants. Her aunt Anita comes across as abrasive but they are so many layers to her character and it was beautiful to get to know her. And Rabbi Sarah is one of my favorites - faithful but also open minded, she is charming and delightful but there’s also a deep sadness in her. She plays such an important part in the book and I would have loved to get to know her better, but the way her arc is written is kinda perfect for this story. I wasn’t sure what to think of Jesus initially but I liked the developing romance. He is also probably one of the most sorted characters in that he knows what he wants from his future and has worked hard for it, despite the world trying to snatch it away from him. Abby is the typical mean girl classmate and Ashleigh is the usual evil stepmother - while I understood the parts they played in Nevaeh’s character growth, they both didn’t feel as real as all the other characters in the book and that’s probably my only issue with this book.

There are so many themes explored in this book, I’m just in awe of the author for being able to talk about all of them in a sensitive manner. The main theme is obviously the issues faced by biracial people, their confusion with finding their place and trying to fit in with both sides of their identity. Both Nevaeh and Stevie have similar kind of issues personally, but they also affect them differently in the outside world because Nevaeh is white passing and he is not. She makes mistakes and is forced to check her privilege many times, sometimes brutally - until she realizes that her privilege allows her to voice her thoughts in a safer manner and sometimes, she has to use this privilege to just listen and give the opportunity to other marginalized voices to speak. There are just so many instances of racism in the book, both micro aggressions and some outright ones - we see how it chips away at the soul of the person who has to encounter them everyday but still wake up and go through it all over again, knowing that their life maybe cut short with even a little misstep. This harsh reality is depicted with raw honesty in the book and it just pained me so much. On another note, the despair of having to go through a divorce after having depended on a person for years is also depicted in a very real manner. The one part which I felt really hard though was, how deep it cuts to lose a childhood best friend and having to go through life without being able to share everything with them. As a single child like Nevaeh, I understood her pain all too well even though my circumstances were different, but I think more books should highlight the deep impact that friendships have on us and how losing them affect us even profoundly than a romantic breakup.

Finally, I just want to say that pick up this book and I promise, you will be affected. It is brilliant, insightful and heartfelt and you just can’t help but feel the raw emotions that the characters are feeling. It clearly shows that this is the author’s lived experience, a fictionalized version of her own life which makes every word feel very honest. The author’s note at the end is even more moving. However, this is a very character driven, slice of life kinda story and there is not much of a plot, but it didn't impact my reading experience at all. It's an amazing debut and I can’t wait to see what more the author has for us in the future.
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ksahitya1987 | 7 other reviews | Aug 20, 2021 |
Ugh, 2.5 but rounding up. I wanted so much to like this more than I did, especially because it’s semi-autobiographical, which makes it doubly hard to rate poorly. Neveah’s story was just too melodramatic and nutty for me as the story continued on. The drama just kept one-upping itself and piling one whacky scenario on top of the other. Hard to keep up with it all and equally hard to suspend disbelief.

Also, there were just too many caricatures that felt to me like sitcom tropes. The bonkers rabbi, the gossip girl-esque high school bully and her ‘squad’, the homewrecking blonde idiot secretary who loves chakras and being evil. All tropey and done too many times to seem original and therefore made unenjoyable to read.

Ugh. I’m having the weirdest in and out reading slump in quarantine. So inconsistent.
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½
 
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Slevyr26 | 7 other reviews | Sep 1, 2020 |
Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.

"Color Me In" has a young adult character that I think some readers will definitely enjoy. We follow 15 year old Nevaeh Levitz who is dealing with the fall out of her parents separation. She and her mother are living with her mother's relatives in Harlem while her mother tries to move forward. Nevaeh feels trapped between the world she came from (rich and affluent) and where she starts to feel more comfortable with her black relatives in Harlem and starts putting together the pieces of her mother's history. Diaz gets into colorism, being biracial, racism, Judaism, and first love. I think she does a great job juggling all of this, though at times parts of Nevaeh's journey feels a little forced.

Nevaeh feels like a person split in two. Though she's biracial (Jewish and African America) she is still seen as a white girl living with her relatives in Harlem. Her mother and father have separated with Nevaeh feeling lost due to her father being gone for two months while her mother sinks further into depression. Nevaeh is finally getting to know her aunt, uncle, and three cousins. We slowly find out that Nevaeh's father kept her mother from seeing her relatives and there definitely seems to be subtle and not subtle signs of racism coming from him. And we get to see how Nevaeh finds out more about where she came from (on her mother's side) and how she's not just one thing.

The secondary characters were developed well though I thought that Nevaeh's father was just a hot mess. I wish that Diaz had delved more into the father's actions because it was heavily implied he looked down upon his wife's blackness, but no one came right out and called his behavior racist. You can see why Nevaeh's mother is depressed and realizing how she gave up her sense of self (a black woman who was a child of immigrants) to marry a rich man who wanted her to deny that part of herself in order to fit in.

We also have Diaz including a Rabbi (Rabbi Sarah) who starts to teach Nevaeh more about Judaism and prepares her for her Bat Mitzvah. I did find Rabbi Sarah to be a little unorthodox though with how she talks to Nevaeh. I just once again don't know how realistic that would be with an adult and a 15 year old.

I thought that Diaz's relationship with her aunt was quite realistic and I felt pangs for Nevaeh trying to fit in with her cousins and the constant rejection from one of them.

I thought the writing was sharp in places, but honestly the way that Nevaeh and her cousins speak though sounded way too old. Not that all teens run around speaking broken grammar, it just sounded like they were making too many speeches. For example, when Nevaeh goes back to her school and addresses the principal and other adults. I just felt like it was too try hard in that moment. Also incorporating some of Nevaeh's writing/poetry wrecked the flow for me at times. I also thought including Nevaeh's mother's diary tripped things up a bit too.

The setting of Harlem came alive based on how Nevaeh sees it, places, and people. Nevaeh's father's home seems separate from her and every time she goes back there it gets a little worse.

The ending leaves things slightly unfinished for Nevaeh and her father, but definitely in a more solid place with her mother, aunt, grandfather, and cousins.
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ObsidianBlue | 7 other reviews | Jul 1, 2020 |

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