This week’s New Title Tuesday recommendation, Another Brooklyn, comes from a familiar author, Jacqueline Woodson. She is a highly lauded writer of books targeted for children, middle schoolers, and young adults. But Another Brooklyn is a mature story of grief, dreaming, growing, and the dangers young people face on the way to adulthood.
Publisher’s Summary: For August, running into a long-ago friend sets in motion resonant memories and transports her to a time and a place she thought she had mislaid: 1970s Brooklyn, where friendship was everything.
August, Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi shared confidences as they ambled their neighborhood streets, a place where the girls believed that they were amazingly beautiful, brilliantly talented, with a future that belonged to them.
But beneath the hopeful promise there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where mothers disappeared, where fathers found religion, and where madness was a mere sunset away.
Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative period when a child meets adulthood—when precious innocence meets the all-too-real perils of growing up. In prose exquisite and lyrical, sensuous and tender, Woodson breathes life into memories, portraying an indelible friendship that united young lives.
This has been on my TBR (to be read) list since summer. My gift to myself was reading it (in one sitting!) on Christmas Eve morning. I had only intended to take a short break between chopping onions and celery. In true Woodson form, the poetic rhythm and beating pulse of the writing kept me turning pages. It is a short but very satisfying read due to the depth of the four friends’ characters and the protective friendship that shielded them as they grew from childhood through adolescence.
Woodson writes about how each girl is affected by their parents’ expectations for their futures:
“Maybe this is how it happened first for everyone – adults promising us their own failed futures. I was bright enough to teach, my father said, even as my dream of stepping into Sylvia’s skin included one day being a lawyer. Angela’s mom had draped the dream of dancing over her. And Gigi, able to imitate every one of us, could step inside anyone she wanted to be, close her eyes, and be gone. Close her eyes and be anywhere.”
Woodson, the Poetry Foundation’s current Young People’s Poet Laureate, infuses Another Brooklyn with the lyricism found in her other works. But his novel for adults is more complex, weaving fluidly between past, present, real and repressed memory.
Author Ann Patchet (Commonwealth) said it best: “Another Brooklyn is a sort of fever dream, containing both the hard truths of life and the gentle beauty of memory.”
Happy and rarefied reading, Susan C.
Also By Woodson:
Brown Girl Dreaming, 2014 National Book Award Young People’s Literature. The author shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free verse poems about growing up in the North and South.
Locomotion In a series of poems, eleven-year-old Lonnie writes about his life, after the death of his parents, separated from his younger sister, living in a foster home, and finding his poetic voice at school.
Beneath a Meth Moon: An Elegy Laurel Daneau has moved on to a new life, in a new town, but inside she’s still reeling from the loss of her beloved mother and grandmother after Hurricane Katrina washed away their home. Laurel’s new life is going well, with a new best friend, a place on the cheerleading squad and T-Boom, co-captain of the basketball team, for a boyfriend. Yet Laurel is haunted by voices and memories from her past.
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