Color Me In meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter in Everything Within and In Between, a deeply honest coming-of-age story about reclaiming a heritage buried under assimilation, the bonds within families, and defining who you are for yourself.
For Ri Fernández’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 pulled Ri away from the community where they once belonged. In its place, Ri has grown up trying to fit in among her best friend’s world of mansions and country clubs in an attempt try to live out her grandmother’s version of the “American Dream.”
In her heart, Ri has always believed that her mother, who disappeared when Ri was young, would accept her exactly how she is and not try to turn her into someone she’s never wanted to be. So when Ri finds a long-hidden letter from her mom begging for a visit, she decides to reclaim what Grandma kept from her: her heritage and her mom.
But nothing goes as planned. Her mom isn’t who Ri imagined she would be and finding her doesn’t make Ri’s struggle to navigate the interweaving threads of her mixed heritage any less complicated. Nobody has any idea of who Ri really is—not even Ri herself.
Everything Within and In Between is a powerful new young adult novel about one young woman’s journey to rediscover her roots and redefine herself from acclaimed author Nikki Barthelmess.
After 17-year-old Ri Fernández, who is Mexican American and white, finds a letter her grandmother had hidden away, revealing her absent mother's location and desire to reconnect ("I've had a mom who wanted to be in my life all along. And Grandma never told me"), Ri, who could not read the Spanish-language letter without Google Translate, decides to transfer from French to Spanish class. The decision quickly sets Ri on a path of rebelliousness and introspection, leading her to meet up with her mother in secret, reject her Mexican grandmother's push to assimilate, and reassess her closest relationships with fresh eyes. In Ri's open, occasionally sarcastic first-person narration, Barthelmess (Quiet No More) examines identity, complicated intergenerational relationships, and the power of connection to one's cultural heritage and community with sincerity and insight in this nuanced contemporary coming-of-age novel. Ri is an absorbing protagonist who's allowed to mess up, reckon with the complexities of her identity and privilege, and grow on the page, and readers will find much to love in Ri's journey as she sets out to define who she is and what she wants for herself. Ages 13–up.