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.
Another Brooklyn is one of those novels that requires you to sit and be still. You need absolute quiet, no distractions. I say this because you need the quiet so Jacqueline Woodson’s beautiful, heartbreaking, funny and powerful words can envelope you, transporting you to a version of Brooklyn I and many others never knew. But the words still resonated, still made me feel the pangs of nostalgia. I may have grown up in the suburbs of D.C., but I remember what it was like to be almost a teenager, when boys (and sometimes men) started noticing the changes in my young body. When I thought I could be or do anything with a confidence I never knew I had. I remember playing games, talking about boys, or getting that look from a parent who thought I wasn’t good enough to be around their daughter. I also remember the friends who would be there to experience everything with me.
I have never read Jacqueline Woodson’s work before, and my God, what a fool I’ve been. Her writing is extraordinary, taking readers through a journey as four friends try to find their way during a crazy, confusing time in their lives and keep their friendship intact. The story is told through August’s point of view, a newcomer to Brooklyn living with her father and brother. It’s in that famous borough where she first lays eyes on Sylvia, Gigi and Angela, three girls who seemed, in August’s eyes, to own the world. When she becomes a part of the group, the trio becomes a quartet, and August knows what friendship truly is. With friendship comes love, acceptance, support. And they will need it for all of the challenges they will face from the world outside of their circle and from within.
I positively, absolutely recommend Another Brooklyn to my readers. If you do read it, please take my advice: find a quiet place, a couple of hours (if that) and let Ms. Woodson’s words caress your mind. You won’t regret it.
Look out for my post on the BAM series Eat, Drink & Be Literary, where I’ll be fan-girling over Ms. Woodson on April 5. Stay tuned!
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