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Another Brooklyn: A Novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 197 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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From the Publisher
Author Jacqueline Woodson
The opening lines of Another Brooklyn
For a long time, my mother wasn't dead yet. Mine could have been a more tragic story. My father could have given in to the bottle or the needle or a woman and left my brother and me to care for ourselves—or worse, in the care of New York City Children's Services, where, my father said, there was seldom a happy ending. But this didn't happen. I know now that what is tragic isn't the moment. It is the memory.
If we had had jazz, would we have survived differently? If we had known our story was a blues with a refrain running through it, would we have lifted our heads, said to each other, This is memory again and again until the living made sense? Where would we be now if we had known there was a melody to our madness? Because even though Sylvia, Angela, Gigi, and I came together like a jazz improv—half notes tentatively moving toward one another until the ensemble found its footing and the music felt like it had always been playing—we didn't have jazz to know this was who we were. We had the Top 40 music of the 1970s trying to tell our story. It never quite figured us out.
The summer I turned fifteen, my father sent me to a woman he had found through his fellow Nation of Islam brothers. An educated sister, he said, who I could talk to. By then, I was barely speaking. Where words had once flowed easily, I was suddenly silent, breath snatched from me, replaced by a melancholy my family couldn't understand.
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.
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August and her friends’ lives are far from perfect. Yet they try to hold on to their dreams just as reality rears its ugly face on every street corner. Out in the world, they confront drugs, sexual predators, poverty, racism, prejudice, and violence while at home; they must deal with parental absence, whether it is physical or emotional. This is a story of female friendship that evolves and changes, bringing both joy and pain as the four girls transition into adulthood. The amazing thing about this book is how Jacqueline Woodson can pack so much in “Another Brooklyn” yet it has less than 200 pages. She may be economical with words, but she doesn’t shortchange readers when it comes to delivering an emotional and thoughtful story of loss.
In dreamy, lyrical prose, Another Brooklyn tells the story of August, a black girl coming of age in 1970s Brooklyn while grieving the absence of her mother. The writing is lovely and poetic, a series of vignettes scattered like memories of what once was as August reflects on her youth.
In many ways, it reads like a love letter to girlhood. August and her three best friends navigate the complexities of adolescence, their gentle innocence inevitability tarnished by the harsh realities that surround them, from absent parents to predatory men.
This transition from girlish naivety to strong womanhood—often before we’re ready for it—is something that’s relatable for most women, no matter when and where we grew up.
I read Another Brooklyn in one sitting. It’s succinct and absorbing, worthy of losing yourself in for a couple of hours.