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Everything Within and In Between by Nikki Barthelmess

Everything Within and In Between genuinely takes a close look at racial microaggressions as well as cultural identity and how it shapes Ri’s relationships with her friends, family, and herself. Hopeful, heartfelt, and honest Barthelmess’ novel is an intriguing coming-of-age story.”

Sheaf & Ink

The Story

From the Publisher

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter meets Color Me In. In Everything Within and In Between Ri Fernández struggles to reclaim a heritage and a mother she hasn’t seen in years.

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 always pushed Ri away from the neighborhood they call home.

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.

My Review: Everything Within And In Between

As a biracial teen, Ri struggles with her Mexican culture.

She wants to speak Spanish.

Ri wants to interact and be part of her community.

Her grandmother is what’s keeping her from obtaining it. Ri’s grandmother quickly assimilates to the American way, as though shedding her past like an unwanted coat. But for Ri, her Mexican culture is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, she wants to reclaim that part of herself.

Whenever authors bring to the table the idea of society seeing biracial characters in two separate worlds, one world saying you’re not being [Insert first culture] enough or you’re not being [insert second culture] enough. How being barraged with these microaggressions, like shrapnel after an explosion, can have devastating consequences. And over the course of the novel, we as readers experience the inner struggle of two cultures, two halves for one whole (Ri), like DNA, only to see certain characteristics of one half invalidating the other.

Where society views one half more valid than the other.

This is where Barthelmess’ novel excels in dismantling racial degradation piece by piece. Beginning the needed conversations Ri needs to have with her friends, family along with herself, will have a profound message for all teen readers.

A Few Last Thoughts

Barthelmess’ novel not only has the conversation of microaggression, but also underage drinking and drug use. There was no content warning regarding the drug use so when it happened I was surprised, especially because it was cocaine.

It is a reality that many families and teenagers face when a person under eighteen begin to experiment with alcohol and drugs. This is a topic parents and guardians should be discussing with their teens in order to ensure their child’s safety and well-being.

I think it’s important that we have meaningful conversations about teenage substance abuse and risks in order to avoid devastating consequences.

Happy Reading ̴ Cece

RATING: ink blotink blotink blot – Satisfyingly Inked

Content Warnings: Drug use (cocaine), underage drinking, alcoholism, and microaggression.

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Everything Within And In Between

Publication Details

Pub DateISBNPage CountPublisherAge GroupReview Posted Online
5-Oct-21978-0062976901336Harper Teen 13+October 4, 2021

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