Saturday, October 1, 2016
Review: Another Brooklyn
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Review copy: ARC via publisher, Final copy via library
Availability: On shelves now
Summary: Running into a long-ago friend sets memories from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them. But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.
Review: What a powerful book. Another Brooklyn feels real. August lets us see her journey from childhood to adult through her memories. These are memories of pain, laughter, friendship, family, music, death, fear, love, and so much more. Memory is a word used many times from the very first page. "I know now that what is tragic isn't the moment. It is the memory."
Woodson created an story that transports readers to 1970s Brooklyn with the sights, sounds, and people. I could hear the children playing in the street and feel the heat of the summer days. It felt like I was reading a memoir or someone's diary. August kept reminding readers about memory as she told about growing up girl in Brooklyn.
August is a transplant to Brooklyn. She sees the children outside, particularly three girls, and wants to be part of their group. She looks at them and thinks they are standing strong. I loved the conversation they have about how they saw each other in the beginning. August explains, "we saw the lost and beautiful and hungry in each of us. We saw home." Together they could be strong. They held onto each other and their childhood as long as they could while also trying to grow up. Woodson explores that tension of clinging to memories and youth while reaching out for adulthood and dreaming of who they will become all the while navigating the challenges for black girls growing up in Brooklyn.
August's mother had warned her not to trust women though. There were many times when she had let August know that women would betray women. August experiences this and the pain is long-lasting.
Woodson crafted a brilliant story here with close attention to the words. Even the layout creates a unique feeling to the reading experience. There's a lot of white space and italics are used to indicate dialogue rather than quotation marks. This was something to adjust to, but it somehow made the story feel more relaxed and personal.
Recommendation: Fans of Woodson will definitely want to get this one soon as well as people who enjoy memoir. While this is fiction, it feels like memoir and lead me to look at my own memories like many memoirs do. This book is filled with lyrical writing that speaks through heartache as a woman looks back at her coming-of-age. It's not to be missed.