Another Brooklyn takes
some effort getting used to; its structure may be unlike any novel
you’ve ever read. It is written in fragments, each separated by blank
space and not always following one from one another. Author Jacqueline
Woodson is also a poet, which shows in the lyrical, elliptical style of
Once one catches on to its rhythm, Another Brooklyn is an enthralling read. It is a coming-of-age story set in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn in the 1970s. The narrator, August, and her brother are ages 8 and 4 when their father, escaping a dangerously mentally ill wife, brings them from Tennessee to his childhood neighborhood. August describes growing up Girl, and African American Girl, among poor, down-and-out Brooklynites. The core of the book concerns Angel’s adolescent friendship with Sylvia, Gigi, and Angela, who face various family problems and dream of shining futures away from their rough neighborhood.
The central theme of memory permeates the other themes of family, friendship, displacement, sexuality, poverty, and race. August is looking back with the perspective of a successful, Ivy League—educated anthropologist in her 30s. Her statement that events are more painful in memory than when they occurred, and her repetition of “This is memory” throughout the book, are ripe for reflection and discussion. Another Brooklyn is a good choice for book groups.
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