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Friday, November 12, 2021

Review: Everything Within and In Between by Nikki Barthelmess

Everything Within and In Between
by Nikki Barthelmess

Thanks to Wunderkind PR and HarperTeen for this gifted book.

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: October 5, 2021
Hardcover
336 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

For Ri Fern├índez’s entire life, she’s been told, “We live in America and we speak English.” Raised by her strict Mexican grandma, Ri has never been allowed to learn Spanish. What’s more, her grandma has always pushed Ri away from the neighborhood they call home and toward her best friend’s world of mansions and country clubs in the hopes that it’ll bring Ri closer to achieving the “American Dream."

In her most private thoughts, Ri has always believed that her mother, who disappeared when she was young, would accept her exactly how she is. So when Ri finds a secret unanswered letter from her mom begging for a visit, Ri decides to reclaim what her grandma kept from her: a language and a mother. But nothing goes as planned. Her mom isn’t who Ri imagined she would be. And Ri’s struggling to navigate the different interweaving threads of her mixed heritage that make her who she is. Nobody has any idea of who Ri really is—not even Ri, herself.

Everything Within and In Between is a new deeply honest story about the bonds between families and defining who you are for yourself from acclaimed author Nikki Barthelmess. 

My Review:


What an absolutely adorable and relatable contemporary young adult book! Ri is quite the character and I'm so happy to have gotten to know her.  She's half Mexican and half White... and as a White passing girl, her grandmother wants her to tap into that so that she can be more successful and go through "less pain" and doesn't understand why Ri wants to tap into her Mexican side more.  

This story cuts deep.  The author takes us on a journey discovering stereotypes, microaggressions, heritage and oh so much more.  Not only from the prospective of strangers being assholes but how even friends and family have their own racism and colorism within that can be even more harmful than helpful - no matter if it stems from somewhere they think is good.  Oh how I feel this so much.  And it also shows in how Ri acts towards her own friends, especially her best one.  It's so easy to take aggression out on those closest to you but wow some of the scenes in how she treats Brittany are so annoying.

While I didn't love everything about this book, I absolutely appreciate the way the author shows the struggle within a biracial girl who is being pulled in too many directions.  I had to remind myself at times that Ri is a teenager and as such is prone to make the mistakes and bad decisions as she did... and that I wasn't going to like everything about it. Haha. Ah Ri - I am happy with how it ended and wish nothing but the best for her.

★★★★


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