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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.
Top Customer Reviews
I have been struggling with my review of this book, because whatever I seem to write doesn’t really do the book justice. It is such a unique beautiful piece of writing. The story begins with August, the narrator, returning by train to visit her dying father. She catches a glimpse of Sylvia, a childhood friend and memories come flooding back to her. The ethereal quality of the book has in part to do with the fact that the narrator is looking way back on an earlier part of her life; in part that she is remembering her childhood, one in which she could not comprehend or accept the death of her mother; and thirdly the poetic quality to the writing.
The idea that August thinks her mother will return and convinces her younger brother of the same, feels so honest, so real, so a part of how children really cope with the loss of a parent. Within the book, different cultural rites of death are mentioned reminding the reader that death is there, but not letting us know the actual circumstances of the mother’s death until later.
Once August arrives in Brooklyn with her father and brother, the father cages the children in the house worried about the dangers of the outside world. This backfires as her younger brother falls through the glass window injuring his arm in his attempts to watch the outside world. At this point, August and her brother are allowed outside to experience the world.
August reminisces about her female friendships from this era in her life. She had developed a close-knit group of girlfriends who become her “home, ” her family, and this allows her feel alive again, after feeling cooped up in their Brooklyn apartment. Together these girls feel stronger and braver. Their friendship gives them a sense of safety, of home, of togetherness that is lacking from their home environments. They grow into puberty together, date, experiment with sex. They confide in each other, things that they do not feel safe confiding to their own parents.
August’s mother’s words about not trusting female friendships keep echoing back to her. “Don’t trust women, my mother said to me. Even the ugly ones will take what you thought was yours.” August learns how this can be true as the friendships begin to slip and in some cases fracture. However, for a time, the friendships are a beautiful thing and allow the girls to feel powerful in a world where they are vulnerable, on account of being female, minorities and poor.
This reflection is of Brooklyn in the 1970’s in a neighborhood that is turning from white to black. While August finds comfort in her friendships, her father finds comfort in religion. It is a stunning look at this place and time period, the struggles these girls faced as they came of age and the hope and courage needed to face it. I highly recommend this to everyone.
This is the story of August, a black girl who has moved from SweetGrove,
Tennessee to the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn with her father and little brother in the early '70s. This is the story of August and her three best friends. This is the story of how those girls grow up on the streets, living on the edge of poverty and either make it--or not--in the world. This is the story of a dangerous place, but one also filled with hope and courage. This is a story of grief. This is a story of love.
A favorite quote: "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."
It's a book about memory, and August's memory did play a horrible yet needed trick on her.
Another Brooklyn took place in the late 1970's and early 80's when I was a young woman who lived in Manhattan. Being white much of the book was familiar yet examined from other lenses. Things that were important to me weren't to August and her friends and vice versa but they were a decade younger and that too played a part.
Her father turned into an important complicated character as was her younger brother.
In some ways it reminded me of a book that's not a tenth as well written but was the most important book of my late childhood on---A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
I'm a compulsive reader but this is the first time in a long time I'm "reviewing" a book on Amazon.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For Bushwick: 1970-1990
I read this in the city, around the city, in Washington Square Park...Read more
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