Two Book Tuesday

How do you write reviews when all you want to do is shout from the rooftops: “I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!”

35442710._SY475_Title: Color Me In
Author: Natasha Diaz
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: August 20th
Ratings: ♥♥♥♥

Goodreads Summary:

Debut YA author Natasha Díaz 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?

Semi-autobiographical account from debut author Natasha Diaz follows the life of Nevaeh as she is dealing with the extreme fallout from the divorce of her parents and the difficulties of trying to find her identity as a biracial teen. She is too white living with her family in Harlem, but then too black for her private school and her Jewish roots. After all these years of quietly blending in with the crowd, Neveah is speaking up and using her voice for good through her poetry.

A lot of times with main characters you can see their faults and recognize when they’ve handed a situation poorly, but this girl was continually being walked over by everyone in her life. I felt so angry for her! I wanted to scream into this book. Everyone thought they knew what was best for Neveah, without even consulting her about it first. The author did a fantastic job with character progression—not only with Neveah, but also with other minor characters like her cousins and crush, but especially her mother.

 My one issue with this book is pretty big but not big enough for me to not have liked the book as is: part of me wishes this was split into two books. There was so much back and forth between the two sides of the family, without them interacting, that I think the two storylines were strong enough to standalone. It would allow readers to go deeper into  both sides of Neveah’s life. It doesn’t even have to be about the same girl, I just can see two books: one detailing a biracial girl discovering things about her mother and her mother’s side of the family AND another book about a biracial girl getting in touch with her Jewish family and having a belated bat mitzvah.

I really enjoyed this book and thought Neveah was a wonderful protagonist that I was constantly rooting for.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

43562239._SY475_Title: Permanent Record 
Author: Mary H.K. Cho
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: September 3rd
Ratings: ♥♥♥♥♥

Goodreads Summary:

After a year of college, Pablo is working at his local twenty-four-hour deli, selling overpriced snacks to brownstone yuppies. He’s dodging calls from the student loan office and he has no idea what his next move is.

Leanna Smart’s life so far has been nothing but success. Age eight: Disney Mouseketeer; Age fifteen: first #1 single on the US pop chart; Age seventeen, *tenth* #1 single; and now, at Age nineteen…life is a queasy blur of private planes, weird hotel rooms, and strangers asking for selfies on the street.

When Leanna and Pab randomly meet at 4:00 a.m. in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn, they both know they can’t be together forever. So, they keep things on the down-low and off Instagram for as long as they can. But it takes about three seconds before the world finds out…

I was such a massive fan of Choi’s debut, Emergency Contact, and this was very high on my list of anticipated reads. And it did not disappoint. The synopsis makes you think the story is going to be centered around this romance and these two characters that make up the couple, but it doesn’t. This is Pablo’s story and everyone else is just visiting.

Pab is lost. He’s left college and is working at a boring job, barely making ends meet. He has complicated relationships with his Korean mother and Pakistani father. He owes tons of money in student loans and to countless credit card companies. All he wants to do is to push everything and everyone away just to have some peace. Leanna is that peace.

Lee rolls into Pab’s life one night when he’s working the graveyard shift at the health food store. They fall into this whirlwind romance, despite her being a mega superstar about to go on tour. However, just because you’ve tried to push all other responsibilities away doesn’t mean they won’t come back to bite you in the ass.

This book takes the celebrity dating trope to a different level especially with the added complication of social media. You can ultimately track a persons’ whereabouts just by looking at their Instagram page. Dating someone, never mind a famous person, is so crazy with the added stress of social media: When is the appropriate time to follow them? Can I add pictures of the two of us? Can I tag them in something? It’s absolutely bonkers having to think about something like that.

Choi is a master at dialogue. Her characters are so smart but never in a pretentious way. The witty banter back-and-forth between Lee and Pab was so much fun to read. I also loved all the descriptions of food, especially when it blended Pab’s two different cultures.

I just really, really loved this book. I didn’t want it to end.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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