Book Review: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Note: This review is part of the 2016 Summer Reading Diversity Spotlight.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Amistad
Genre: Literary Fiction
ISBN: 978-0062359988
Source: Received From Publisher
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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.

***

Another Brooklyn is yet another stellar piece of work from Jacqueline Woodson. In this novel, we follow August as she looks back on the memories of her childhood in Brooklyn after she runs into one of her oldest and closest friends from that time. What a walk down memory lane it is. And what a fantastic story about sisterhood and how that evolves over time, when the rose colored glasses are taken off.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is how well this story balances detailing August’s life at home and in the neighborhood and the many different relationship dynamics with her father, brother, tight knit group of girlfriends, boyfriend, neighbors, etc… It’s all so beautifully intertwined and every word brings such life to the story. There is no wasted space within the pages of this book.

Through August’s memory, we explore more life than death but death, yes, and in more ways than one. The death of a loved one, a stranger, a friendship, a relationship one thought was romantic and true, and so on. We explore what it means to be together, to be surrounded by the people you love and still be alone. We explore the desire, that yearning for peace that we all have and how unconsciously in sync our deepest desires are with the people that we choose to live our daily lives with. The people, who are just as or most lost, more found than us but with us, for us, all the same.

Who can we trust with our secrets? Who can we hurt? Who can we change? Help grow? Walk away from. With the truth, who can we stand our grand to? Can it be ourselves? Can it be the Brooklyn we grew up in, another Brooklyn than the one we see through the lens of now with clearer eyes (yes, I’m going to do it), with fuller hearts? One of August’s friends asks in the novel, “What keeps keeping us here?” What a loaded question. What a wonderful peek into that answer.

In all of this coming of age, of realization, there’s age, there’s limitation and that was displayed so well here, reminding us adults what it was like being under a parent’s control and feeling restricted, even with a little breathing room. It’s not easy. Trying to move forward or in any direction, really and being so stuck, feeling like you’re drowning. All of this just above the poverty line in a neighborhood full of horny boys and men, ready to cop a feel at any moment. It’s a lot to handle. Being a black girl anywhere but especially where you are desired. And where can you go from here as a kid? How do you walk on from, move forward from point A (all of the above) to point B?

Another Brooklyn tells such a beautiful story about so many things in such a short amount of words, telling it across a few different ages of August’s life and it flows so masterfully. I loved it and I know you will too. P.S. it’s a great summer read. So get to it.

 

Favorite Lines

  • Where would we be now if we had known there was a melody to our madness?
  • Maybe this is how it happened first for everyone–adults promising us their own failed futures.
  • How do we dream ourselves out of this?

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson releases August 9, 2016.

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