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?
This is one of those super timely books that deals with such important themes, but I’m worried that it tried to deal with too many at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong, this book hit a deep part of me. I, too, can relate to having a garbage father who cheats nonstop. I can relate to not really having a space to fit in (despite being an average cis white girl in a rural area). Plus it’s all so well-written!
Neveah deals with so much crap at her private school, it’s ridiculous. I was amazed so much went unchallenged. Her cousin Jordan challenges Neveah’s lack of challenging, basically calling her complacent since she’s white-passing.
Neveah’s own father is so shockingly racist. He always seems to conveniently forget that his own daughter is black. But he still pretty much forces her to go through with a belated bat mitzvah.
The only characters I truly enjoyed were Jesus, Neveah’s boyfriend, and Rabbi Sarah. Despite that, I still really enjoyed the story. It fits perfectly within our current political climate, but everything still turns out okay. Plus I loved that we get to read Neveah’s own poems, as they provide more insight to her feelings. My only real problem with the story is the focus on her little cousin Jerry’s size and weight. Like, he’s a teenager, he’s gonna eat everything.
A well-written story that fits so well in our current climate, I give Color Me In 4 out of 5 sour Jelly Bellies. Thank you to Random House Children’s and NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for review.