Summary and book reviews of Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Brooklyn

A Novel

by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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About this Book

Book Summary

The acclaimed New York Times bestselling and National Book Award–winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming delivers her first adult novel in twenty years.

Running into a long-ago friend sets memory 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.

Like Louise Meriwether's Daddy Was a Number Runner and Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood—the promise and peril of growing up—and exquisitely renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four young lives.

1

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.


If we had had jazz, would we have survived differently? If we had known our story was a blues with a refrain running through it, would we have lifted our heads, said to each other, This is memory again and again until the living made sense? Where would we be now if we had known there was a melody to our madness? Because even though Sylvia, Angela, Gigi, and I came together like a jazz improv—half notes tentatively moving toward one another until the ensemble found its footing and the music felt like it had always been playing—we didn't have ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Boxed and Starred Review. Woodson…combines grit and beauty in a series of stunning vignettes, painting a vivid mural of what it was like to grow up African-American in Brooklyn during the 1970s.

Booklist

Starred Review. The novel's richness defies its slim page count. In her poet's prose, Woodson not only shows us backward-glancing August attempting to stave off growing up and the pains that betray youth, she also wonders how we dream of a life parallel to the one we're living.

Library Journal

Starred Review. An evocative portrayal of friendship, love, and loss that will resonate with anyone creating their own identity and will have YA crossover appeal.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A stunning achievement from one of the quietly great masters of our time.

Author Blurb Ann Patchett, New York Times Bestselling Author
Another Brooklyn is a sort of fever dream, containing both the hard truths of life and the gentle beauty of memory ... Jacqueline Woodson has such an original vision, such a singular voice. I loved this book.

Author Blurb Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light
Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn is another kind of book, another kind of beautiful, lyrical, hallucinatory, heartbreaking and powerful novel. Every gorgeous page leads to another revelation, another poignant event, or memory. This is an incredible and memorable book.

Author Blurb Tracy K. Smith, Pulitzer Prize-Winning author of Life on Mars and Ordinary Light
Jacqueline Woodson's spare, emphatic novel about young women growing up in 1970s Bushwick brings some of our deepest silences-about danger, loss, and black girls' coming of age-into powerful lyric speech ... heartbreaking and restorative, a gorgeous and generous paean to all we must leave behind on the path to becoming ourselves.

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Beyond the Book

The Blackout of 1977

Blackout LootingSet in the 1970s, Another Brooklyn references numerous contemporary events, from Vietnam to Son of Sam (a killer convicted of a series of shooting attacks that began in New York City in the summer of 1976 and ended in the summer of 1977.) One event in particular that figures in August's memories is the electrical blackout of July 13-14, 1977. The blackout was notable for its geographic specificity (it knocked out power to almost all of New York City, but nowhere else in the Northeast) as well as for the length of time it took Con Edison to restore power and, most infamously, its incitement of looting and vandalism, as well as arson.

Blackout EffectThe blackout occurred during a period when New Yorkers were facing financial stresses, rising crime ...

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