BookBrowse Reviews Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Another Brooklyn

A Novel

by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson X
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2016, 192 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2017, 192 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


Set in the 1970s, Another Brooklyn illuminates a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that unites four young lives.

There's a trend this year of award-winning writers for young people – like Robin Wasserman, Gayle Forman, and Meg Rosoff – publishing significant literary fiction for an adult audience. Now acclaimed young adult author Jacqueline Woodson joins those ranks. Woodson, who won the 2014 National Book Award (among many other accolades) for her memoir-in-verse Brown Girl Dreaming, again explores themes of coming of age in her new novel.

The title Another Brooklyn might evoke contemporary real-estate pitches about up-and-coming urban environments (e.g., "Boise, Idaho, is poised to become another Brooklyn"), but in Woodson's novel set in the 1970s, "Brooklyn," particularly its working-class Bushwick neighborhood, means something much different and more complicated: "I watched my brother watch the world, his sharp, too serious brow furrowing down in both angst and wonder. Everywhere we looked, we saw the people trying to dream themselves out. As though there was someplace other than this place. As though there was another Brooklyn." For teen-aged August, as well as her friends and family, Brooklyn is a landscape to be traversed warily, a territory rife with dangers, a place from which to escape, or at least try to.

Like many of their neighbors, August and her family are relative newcomers to Brooklyn. August moves there with her father and younger brother from a romanticized place they call SweetGrove, Tennessee. August continually reassures her brother that their mother, who had become increasingly unbalanced after their uncle's death in Vietnam, will return to them any day now. But their mother never arrives, and despite memories of her mother's exhortations to "keep women a whole other hand away from the farthest tips of your fingernails," August finds herself longing for the friendship of other girls, particularly the tight-knit relationship of three in the neighborhood: Gigi, Angela, and Sylvia.

After some initial shyness on August's part, the four become inseparable: "four girls together, amazingly beautiful and terrifyingly alone." As they travel from childhood into adolescence, they must navigate an environment in which their hopes and aspirations are continually under threat by poverty's hindrances, by men's (often unwanted) attention and expectations, and by society's assumptions about their curtailed potential.

Another Brooklyn is a novel told in retrospect. August's recollections of her adolescence – not all of them welcome – are prompted by a return visit she makes to Brooklyn as an adult, during her father's terminal illness. On the way home from the funeral, she spots Sylvia on the train, and immediately the two decades since she's last seen her friend melt away, flooding August with a rush of memories. "This is memory," she repeats again and again throughout her narrative, continually reminding readers of both the power and fallibility of human recollection and understanding.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given Woodson's background not only as a novelist but also as a poet, Another Brooklyn is told in spare, lyrical prose, with a surface simplicity that belies its underlying narrative strength and emotional heft. Often, in Woodson's novel, what isn't said is as essential as what is, and readers come away feeling as if they, in the process of reading the novel, are somehow partners in Woodson's project of telling her poignant and devastating story about dreams deferred, destroyed, and – in rare cases – realized.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl

This review was originally published in August 2016, and has been updated for the May 2017 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Blackout of 1977

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...
  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

"Electrifying . . . as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it's set."
—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Story of Arthur Truluv
    by Elizabeth Berg

    An emotionally powerful novel from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.