Happy Thursday and welcome to my stop on the Color Me In blog tour!! I’m so excited because today I get to share an excerpt of the book with you! Read on to find out more about the book, author, and tour, plus enter to win a print copy of Color Me In by Natasha Diaz!
Color Me In by Natasha Diaz
Published by Delacorte Press on August 20, 2019
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Debut YA author Natasha Diaz pulls from her personal experience to inform this powerful coming-of-age novel 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.
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?
One. Two. Three. Four. Six. Seven.
Squirrels dart back and forth across the park, so I count them, anything to distract myself from how bad I have to pee. The line is taking forever, but I’m not going to have an accident, not when we finally made it up to the front.
“Excuse me?” a syrup-sweet voice asks my mom as we shuffle an inch closer to the tire swing. “My daughter is riding the swing alone too, and I’ve got to take the roast out of the slow cooker. . . . I was wondering if they could go together.”
“Sure,” my mom agrees.
The lady bends down to me, meeting my gaze with Cinderella- ball-gown-blue eyes.
“Well, aren’t you just the prettiest thing?” she says. “How old are you?”
I look up at my mom for permission to talk to a stranger. She nods.
“Six,” I say, holding up the fingers to confirm.
“Five,” my mom corrects.
The woman laughs like we told the best joke in the whole wide world.
“They’re such a riot at this age, aren’t they?” she says.
“Sure are,” my mom says, remaining friendly enough not to be rude, but monosyllabic so as not to invite further conversation.
The lady points at her daughter. “That’s my Samantha,” she says. I see a small, pale girl whose light yellow hair is so fine it looks like silver thread in the sun.
“They’re only a year apart. Maybe I could get your number for a playdate? I so need a break sometimes. How long have you been nannying? She is so well behaved; her parents must love you.”
The lady talks a mile a minute as she rummages through her bag, unearthing pacifiers and baggies filled with Cheerios.
“Aha!” She holds up an index card with crayon all over it and writes her name and number before handing it to my mom.
The line of exhausted parents waiting behind us starts to grumble; it is our turn. The woman hoists Samantha onto her shoulder like a rag doll and walks past us to put her on the tire.
My mom crumples the index card and it hits the ground like a dry leaf. She begins to walk toward the swing, but I don’t move. This isn’t the first time someone has said my mom is my nanny. In fact, it happens so often that I have begun to get concerned.
“Mommy, are you really my mommy?” I ask, distressed.
My voice projects much louder than I intended, and everyone in the park turns to stare, even the blue-eyed lady. Their eyes burn through my sweater like angry moths and I lose the last bit of control I had over my bladder. Hot pee trails down my legs as I shake, terrified as to what my mom’s answer will be.
My mother’s golden-brown skin glows, illuminated by the sun that streams through the branches of the trees overhead. When she bends down, I see her lips quiver. She cups my face and her thumbs rub my soft, whitish cheeks, as if the gentle sweeping motion is all I need to clear the pain away.
“I’m your mommy,” she says.
And then she drags me out of the park before I get a chance to ride the swing.
Natasha Díaz is a born and raised New Yorker, currently residing in Brooklyn, NY with her tall husband. She spends most of her days writing with no pants on and alternating between E.R. and Grey’s Anatomy binges. Formerly a reality TV producer, Natasha is both an author and screenwriter. Her scripts have placed as a quarterfinalist in the Austin Film Festival and a finalist for both the NALIP Diverse Women in Media Fellowship and the Sundance Episodic Story Lab. Her essays can be found in The Establishment and Huffington Post. Raised by a first generation half-Liberian/half-Brazilian mother and a Jewish-American father, Natasha writes stories about people who don’t fit into the boxes society imposes, and instead, create their own as they search for their places in the world. Her first novel, Color Me In, will be published by Delacorte Press/Random House August, 20 2019.
Are you adding this book to your #TBR? It’s been on mine for months, and I’m so excited to read it! Let me know if you’re adding it in the comments and have a splendiferous day!