Jacqueline Woodson typically writes for children and young adults, so it’s a real treat when she wades into grown woman territory. With her latest, Another Brooklyn, readers, but especially black women, are swept back into their own childhood, coming of age, hanging on the block with your girls – all of the things that ultimately create what @thepbg coined as #blackgirlmagic.
The protagonist of the story, August, returns to Brooklyn in her thirties to bury her father. A run in with a childhood friend, Sylvia, sends her on a trip down memory lane to a time when Sylvia, Angela and Gigi were revolving planets in her universe. Navigating the streets of Brooklyn and life without a mother is difficult, but it’s eased by the presence of friends like Sylvia, the recent immigrant from Martinique; Gigi, an aspiring actress that sheds her skin and accent for whatever she nationality or personality thinks is more suitable for the current situation; and Angela, the dancer who loses herself in the melody of the music while blocking out images of her strung out mother.
In the summer of 1973, the girls have no way of knowing what the future holds, but they have each other. So when one of them is raped, it’s her friends that put her back together. When another’s mother goes missing, the others assure her that she’s still alive. They warn each other of what streets to avoid, what people to avoid – especially which boys and men, those that leer at them too long or try to press up against them while coping a feel.
Woodson’s Another Brooklyn feels so much like my childhood. From the girl next door who pretended the bruises on her arm were from falling down to the girl down the street who slept with any boy who asked, trying to find love where she could since her Bible thumping foster mother didn’t dole it out and the reverend that did didn’t offer the right kind of love; trips to the penny candy store; visits to Eunice or Marie, the local kitchen beauticians; betrayals of friendship; fights over boys; and looking back fondly at your time together but knowing when it’s time to move on. Another Brooklyn is truly the definition of #blackgirlmagic.
Published: August 2016
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.
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