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Another Brooklyn: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 9, 2016
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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.
An Amazon Best Book of August 2016: Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson’s first adult novel in twenty years is nothing short of remarkable. Her protagonist, August, is one of four girls coming of age in 1970s Brooklyn who become “always and all ways” friends until one by one their lives take different turns. Woodson is able to convey so much with so little—her words and sentences are beautifully crafted to fill you with emotion and understanding in a single line that feels effortless and light. The girls’ lives move to the beat of disco rhythms, the chant of Double Dutch, and later the pleas of their boyfriends to do just this one thing…Their neighborhood is both lifeline and trap, as so many places are, and it’s hard to say for sure why some break the tether and others become what they once scorned. Another Brooklyn is a breathtaking account of growing up female and black in a time of conflicting pressures and crushing assumptions, and in doing so creating a lifetime of memories. --Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review
From School Library Journal
Woodson brings us August, a first-person narrator akin to her own remembered self in her verse memoir for young people, Brown Girl Dreaming. In this novel, though, rather than focusing on how childhood foments a writer's impulse, the author operates dual lenses in relating another brown girl's experiences of becoming a woman in 1970s Brooklyn. August's voice shifts easily from a wide-angled adult perspective, as she returns to Brooklyn after 20 years for her father's funeral, into a telephoto clarity as she recalls her first sight of a magically joyful trio of neighborhood girls from the window of the third-floor apartment her father forbade her to leave after the family moved there from their rural Tennessee home. The adult August's fierce remembrance makes poignant the isolation and novelty of a city life she must enter motherless, so desperate to be the fourth fast friend, to make a perfect quartet of the three who dazzle and need her. The solemn refrains in this poeticized prose sound like the changing colors and cadences of the borough: her family's imperfect conversion to Islam, including August's work to resolve her denial of her mother's loss with a hijab-clad therapist; and the alluring yet dangerous navigation of the waters of girlhood toward the depths of sexual maturity. Teens of the searching sort, particularly those who have read the author's works for younger readers, may find this offering evocative of what school reunions can reveal: the talented may fly too high in fame, the privileged may not always embrace their advantage, and some raise themselves up and out while others are lost to obscurity. In the character of August, Woodson brings tidbits of research on the funeral practices of world cultures to bear on this keen examination of her Brooklyn in its many incarnations. VERDICT Something to savor for the nearly grown who have acquired a taste for the complex and bittersweet flavor of memory.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Gwinnett County, GA
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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.
Most recent customer reviews
The writing was beautiful here, like a poem but this book did not have a great impact on me as I was expecting it would.Read more