- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Amistad Press; Reprint edition (30 May 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062359991
- ISBN-13: 978-0062359995
- Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.7 x 20.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 204 g
- Customer Reviews: 278 customer ratings
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Another Brooklyn Paperback – 30 May 2017
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"Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn is a wonder. With a poet's soul and a poet's eye for image and ear for lyrical language, Woodson delivers a moving meditation on girlhood, love, loss, hurt, friendship, family, faith, longing, and desire. This novel is a love letter to a place, an era, and a group of young women that we've never seen depicted quite this way or this tenderly. Woodson has created an unforgettable, entrancing narrator in August. I'll go anywhere she leads me."--Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill
"...fine-cadenced prose..."--Wall Street Journal
"...it is the personal encounters that form the gorgeous center of this intense, moving novel...Structured as short vignettes, each reading more like prose poetry than traditional narrative, the novel unfolds as memory does, in burning flashes, thick with detail..."--New York Times Book Review
''...And Sister Jacqueline Woodson comes singing memory. Her words like summer lightning get caught in my throat and I draw her up from southern roots to a Brooklyn of a thousand names, where she and her three 'sisters' learn to navigate a new season. A new herstory. Everywhere I turn, my dear Sister Jacqueline, I hear your words, a wild sea pausing in the wind. And I sing..."--Sister Sonia Sanchez
"Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn is another kind of book, another kind of beautiful, a lyrical, hallucinatory, heartbreaking, and powerful novel. Every gorgeous page leads to another revelation, another poignant event or memory. This is an incredible and memorable book."--Ann Patchett, New York Times Bestselling Author of This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage and State of Wonder
"Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn is another kind of book, another kind of beautiful, a lyrical, hallucinatory, heartbreaking, and powerful novel. Every gorgeous page leads to another revelation, another poignant event or memory. This is an incredible and memorable book."--Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light
"Another Brooklyn joins the tradition of studying female friendships and the families we create when our own isn't enough, like that of Toni Morrison's Sula, Tayari Jones' Silver Sparrow and Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde. Woodson uses her expertise at portraying the lives of children to explore the power of memory, death and friendship.--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Another Brooklyn reads like a love song to girlhood..."--Bustle
"emotionally resonant work"--Seattle Times
From the Inside Flap
For August, running into a long-ago friend sets in motion resonant memories, and transports her to a time and place she thought she had mislaid: 1970s Brooklyn, where friendship was everything.
August, Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi shared confidences as they ambled their neighborhood streets, a place where the girls believed that they were amazingly beautiful, brilliantly talented, with a future that belonged to them.
But beneath the hopeful promise there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where mothers disappeared, where fathers found religion, and where madness was a mere sunset away.
Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative period when a child meets adulthood--when precious innocence meets the all-too-real perils of growing up. In prose exquisite and lyrical, sensuous and tender, Woodson breathes life into memories, portraying an indelible friendship that united young lives.
Another Brooklyn is an enthralling work of literature from one of our most gifted novelists.--Bustle
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Top review from Australia
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What a delicious, haunting little book. It’s not fat physically, but it’s sure full of food for thought. Although I have touched on some of the main points of the story (the challenges August faces), this isn't plot-driven, and most is shown to us early.
August and her younger brother have just buried their father, and she looks back twenty years and tells their story. She has had counselling from a therapist, who tells her everyone has suffered tragedies, as if that will ease August’s suffering. (Aren't most of us guilty of that?)
We share her experience as a young girl growing up without a mother. That’s the first challenge.
She keeps assuring her little brother that their mother “is coming, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” , but when she asks her father what’s in the jar, he tells her, with increasing exasperation “You know what’s in that jar.”
She was a carefree, little black girl (the second challenge) in SweetGrove, Tennessee, but her father moved the children to Brooklyn (the third challenge). She reminisces about the first time she saw her three best friends from her window.
“The three of them walked down our block, dressed in halter tops and shorts, arms linked together, heads thrown back, laughing. I watched until they disappeared, wondering who they were, how they . . . became.”
When she has happy times with her three best friends -
“the four of us sharing the weight of growing up Girl in Brooklyn as though it was a bag of stones we passed among ourselves saying ‘Here. Help me carry this.”
They are slightly different colours and from slightly different social strata (the fourth and fifth challenges) and have to learn to navigate each other’s families. They look different, come from different tribes (my words) – braids, cornrows, long wavy hair, part-Chinese, reddish hair, darker or lighter skin.
She and her brother are tight friends, sharing a room, holding hands for comfort. They spend time looking out their window at the people passing by, wondering how and what they will become when they grow up.
“Everywhere we looked, we saw the people trying to dream themselves out. As though there was someplace other than this place. As though there was another Brooklyn.”
And as the girls develop curves, they also learn to navigate the increasing attention of males, both the predatory, creepy older ones and the same-age, urgently horny younger ones whom they want to satisfy. (Now we're up to her sixth challenge.)
“‘The pastor at my church comes up behind me sometimes when I’m singing in choir,’ Gigi said. ‘I can feel his thing on my back. Don’t sing in your church choir. Or if you sing in it, go to another place while you sing.’ And she whispered how she was the queen of other places. ‘Close my eyes and boom, I’m gone. I learned it from my mother,’ she told us. ‘So many days you look in that woman’s eyes and she isn’t even there.’”
This is an experience that would be familiar to most girls and women I know – unwanted physical contact – and the advice that many have probably followed. Kind of like “don’t ask, don’t tell”. I remember hearing English wives were counselled to “Lie back and think of England,” to ensure English population growth.
“Summer came again and men and boys were everywhere, feathery hands on our backsides in crowds, eyes falling too long at our chests, whispers into our ears as we passed strangers. Promises – of things they could do to us, with us, for us.”
Then a cheerleader captain was badly beaten by her family.
“’She got a baby inside her,’ her brother finally admitted. ‘She got sent back Down South.’
“We pulled our boyfriends’ fingers from inside of us, pushed them away, buttoned our blouses. We knew Down South. Everyone had one. Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico. The threat of a place we could end back up in to be raised by a crusted-over single auntie or strict grandmother.”
Their father forms a serious liaison with a Muslim woman after joining the Nation of Islam, (peacefully and happily). He brings home Sister Loretta, whom they like very much and who tells them they are eating poison, and shows them the right way to live. (And I think this is thing number 7, more than enough challenges for one person.)
So she’s motherless, young, coloured, either more or less poor than her friends, doesn’t quite belong to any tribe, and is becoming a teenager full of hormones. And her father’s new faith means it’s goodbye bacon and ham sandwiches at home. Then comes the counselling, mentioned earlier.
“Sister Sonja was a thin woman, her brown face all angles beneath a black hijab. So this is who the therapist became to me – the woman with the hijab, fingers tapered, dark eyes questioning. by then, maybe it was too late.”
In this short book, we even get to see a bit of what happened to the girls when they grew up. It is just wonderful. There were a few repetitive phrases, which jarred ever so slightly, but by golly, what a fine piece of work this is.
Thanks to NetGalley and OneWorld Publications for the review copy from which I've quoted, and I truly hope the quotes don't change in the final copy. I love the writing!
Top reviews from other countries
I'm white and British so can't comment on accuracy but it was relatable and real.