Color Me In

Delacorte. Aug. 2019. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525578239.
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

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