Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline WoodsonAnother Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Published by Amistad on August 9, 2016
Pages: 192
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
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five-stars

Running into a long-ago friend sets memories from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.
But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

 

When I started reading Another Brooklyn and found it started with a haiku by Richard Wright, I knew right then and there, this book is going to steal my heart. This is a sad twist on your typical coming of age story. Everything closes in on our protagonist, August, before her world opened up, before her sense of self could emerge.

“At eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, we knew we were being watched.”

“We knew that crossing that bridge meant being on the same side of the river as that place called Times Square, where girls like us got snatched up by pimps, shot up with dope, and spent the rest of their lives walking along Eighth Avenue, ducking their heads into slowing cars.”

There were a lot of elements that reminded me of Richard Wright’s Native Son (but from a female point-of-view), as well as Silvia Avallone’s Swimming to Elba (but in the context of 1970s America). But Jacqueline Woodson manages to convey the difficulties of growing up and the weight of tragedy without losing all hope.

Also, it was nice to see a positive bisexual representation that was simply there, no tropes.

I still haven’t read Woodson’s memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, but after reading this, I know I need to do that soon.

five-stars
  • YES to the bisexual protagonist thing! That was wonderful to see, where the book just didn’t have any thoughts or feelings about it at all. It was who she was. Done.

    I just read this in a single sitting two nights ago and thought it was just so lovely. The National Book Award longlisting for it is well deserved.

  • I’ve heard good things about this book and now you- I need to add this to my TBR pronto!