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The Street

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  3,111 ratings  ·  270 reviews
THE STREET tells the poignant, often heartbreaking story of Lutie Johnson, a young black woman, and her spirited struggle to raise her son amid the violence, poverty, and racial dissonance of Harlem in the late 1940s. Originally published in 1946 and hailed by critics as a masterwork, The Street was Ann Petry's first novel, a beloved bestseller with more than a million cop ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published March 15th 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1946)
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Aubrey
Don't talk to me about Germans. They're only doing the same thing in Europe that's been done in this country since the time it started.
Since a grand jury ruled that Daniel Pantaleo should not be indicted for the murder of Eric Garner, a murder committed via an unlawful chokehold that was deemed a homicide and published as a Youtube video a day later, I've been doing some reconfiguring with the help of myriad Tumblr posts cause fuck mainstream media. I'll trust instead in Chris Rock who said it
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Ij
The Street to Lutie Johnson meant 116th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, New York City. For those who don’t know, that’s Harlem. Lutie is looking here for an apartment for her and her son Bub. She wants her own apartment away from her Pop, where she believed Lil her Pop’s current live-in girlfriend is a bad influence to Bub.

The apartment in question is a fourth floor walkup with dark narrow hallways, located in the back of the building. There is a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, and
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Kristen
I haven't felt so mindfucked from an ending since Bend Sinister. Yet, whereas Nabokov does it simply because he can, in The Street it serves to underline the message, and I would say message rather than plot because Petry was a political writer and this novel certainly is that, besides being a wonderful piece of fiction. Some books shouldn't have happy endings, life in 1940's Harlem as a single mother didn't often have a happy ending and some types of books should just completely break you becau ...more
Jessica
I'm hesitant to give this four stars for a couple of reasons: one, because I know it was flawed in certain important ways, but to me the stars have to do with how much I personally enjoyed a book, not how technically "good" it was, so I think that's okay. The main reason I'm afraid of singing this book's praises too loudly is that I really loved it, and being able to see its problems and knowing other people might not think it's good really hurts my feelings. I feel protective of this book, and ...more
Misshaq
I received this book as a gift from my grandmother. She wrote a small note in the insert of the book that says she read this book when she was 16 (she is now 78) because she grew up in Harlem near 116th street where this story takes place.

The Street is about a woman name Lutie Johnson-young,smart,strong willed and determined to rise above the poverty and racism that constrains her on a daily basis. After an unsuccessful youthful marriage, she becomes a single woman raising her son in Harlem 195
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Chance Maree
[Lifted from Wiki] Ann Petry (1908-1997) was the first black woman writer with book sales topping a million copies. She was raised sheltered from most of the disadvantages other black people in the United States had to experience due to the color of their skin.

Now, I'll quote from Wiki directly:

"Petry had a strong family foundation with well-traveled uncles, who had many stories to tell her when coming home; her father, who overcame racial obstacles, opened a pharmacy in the small town; and her
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Chris Blocker
Ann Petry's The Street bears considerable resemblance to Wright's Native Son or Ellison's Invisible Man. All three tell a tale of a young black person and their struggle to achieve more. All three were written in the same era. All three are heartbreaking and haunting. I've loved all three, but each stands out for its own reason. The Street stands apart from the other two because Petry's story is so much more than a story of ethnicity; it's equally a tale about the struggles of women, and more so ...more
Nancy Oakes
A phenomenal story. "The street" itself is actually one of the novel's main characters, taking on a life of its own throughout the story. As noted on page 323 in Lutie Johnson's thoughts, referring to her Harlem ghetto neighborhood,

"Streets like the one she lived on were no accident. They were the North's lynch mobs...the methods the big cities used to keep Negroes in their place." (323)

Not only that, but "and while you were out working to pay the rent on this stinking, rotten place, why, the s
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Keirstan
It will be a long time before I forget the experience of reading Ann Petry’s The Street. A vivid analysis of race and class injustice in World War II-era New York City framed by the personal account of single mother Lutie Johnson, The Street is as heartbreaking today as it was in 1946, the year of its publication. Petry’s straightforward, omniscient style of writing is a perfect complement to the story, communicating its tragic message with unflinching clarity.

At the forefront of Petry’s novel
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Charles
This is a hard book to rate. It's better than 3 stars but not a 4. I would probably give it a 3.5. For the most part it is well-written and the plot moves right along. The protagonist, Lutie Johnson, is believable and likable. The idea behind the plot -- how "the street" in poor and predominantly black neighborhoods makes a victim of almost everyone -- is well-handled. The impacts of racism and segregation on African Americans of the period -- "The Street" was published in 1946 -- are completely ...more
Alex
Ann Petry's 1946 Harlem classic is the book I wish A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was. Both are about poor folks, and both are wonderfully geographically specific, but Tree Grows is terribly sentimental, and The Street is...not. The lady version of Native Son wouldn't be the worst way to describe it.

"The men stood around and the women worked," is Petry's thesis. "The men left the women and the women went on working and the kids were left alone." And "the women work because for years now the white folk
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Meghan
"And it wasn't just this city. It was any city where they set up a line and say black folks stay on this side and white folks on this side, so that the black folks were crammed on top of each other - jammed and packed and forced into the smallest possible space until they were completely cut off from light and air.
It was any place where the women had to work to support the families because the men couldn't get jobs and the men got bored and pulled out and the kids were left without proper home
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Nathan Wisnoski
I hesitate to give this 5 stars because of all the 5-star ratings I've been doling out recently, but I can't help myself—it's stuck with me for the past few days since I've finished the book and I'm still thinking about the ending...

Petry is obviously writing with a purpose here—it's a novel about a poor, black, single mother in Harlem and was published in 1946—but she also succeeds in crafting a heart-wrenching story that does not suffer at the hands of her message.

Lutie Johnson may be the prot
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Nicole
Aug 12, 2007 Nicole rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely everyone
The Street, by Ann Petry, is one of my all-time favorite books. Sometimes I find I have a physical relationship to the object of a book, and this is a paramount example.

In college, I volunteered at a books for prisoners program, where we would package books per prisoner's requests. Aside from the delightful (and perhaps naive, or at least simplistic) joy of hoping that books could address the systemic oppression and human toll that is prison (and the crimes that put people there), I got to handl
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Babydoll
I have always wanted to read this book, but was somehow never presented with the opportunity to read it until this weekend. I am awfully angry that I took so long to read it, for it was an amazing novel. Well written, gripping, and dismal, 'The Street' presents the reader with a disturbing story of a woman struggling in Harlem to raise her son alone, on a street populated with poor Blacks. Ann Petry proved herself as such a talented writer, that she became the first African American woman to sel ...more
Nicky Penttila
Raw, riveting, and sadly still reflective of our own times, this novel describes life on a street in Harlem in 1945. I found the pacing a bit slow and some text a bit repetitious, but maybe that was needed to drive home the point that poverty and lack of opportunity are a crucible melting the hardiest values and weakening the strongest souls. The end is both expected and a surprise—well done.

What I liked best: Pretty much everything, but especially all the points of view. We’re mainly with Lutie
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Elise
"The Street" is a powerful and important book that every American should read to get a glimpse inside the life of cyclical poverty. This is the story of Lutie Johnson after her "divorce" from her husband, as she tries her best to make a decent life for herself and her eight year old son, Bub, on the cruel streets of New York City during WWII, and did I mention that it's also winter time throughout this novel? Can she manage to do it and hold onto her sense of dignity and self-respect? In many wa ...more
Adrienne
This book is to the single, poor, black mother literary voice what the Their Eyes Were Watching God is to the priming, budding, adventurous voice of the maturing black woman loving and enduring the stories of the porch. In much the way that Hurston captures and celebrates Southern life and love, Petry captures East Coast struggle and heartbreak. I'm not quite sure why this novel doesn't live in such popularity as similar works. In either case, I am happy to have discovered this gem of a book. As ...more
Pam
The ending of this novel is perhaps the most heartbreaking thing you'll ever read. However, Petry is masterful in her ability to understand the motivations of even the most odious characters. She also does a brilliant job of trapping the reader in the same way she traps Lutie Johnson in her life, through no fault of her own. I've taught this novel several times, and although students are usually unhappy with the ending, they eventually have to admit that there's no other ending that makes any se ...more
Donna
i am totally captivated by Petry's use of the environment as character.
Hattie
Professionals say our environment is a major part of what we become later in life. Lutie Johnson didn't need a psychologist or social worker to tell her these words. Deep down in her heart she knew 116th street would never make her. It could only break her. Everyday her constant thought is how to get away from the street
before it's destructive powers destroyed her little boy, Bub. Sadly, her environment is a major battle she can never win. I learned that no matter how hard I try to remove mysel
...more
Dominic
I was introduced to Ann Petry's work several years ago through her amazing short story, "Like a Winding Sheet," a haunting story about a loving couple whose relationship becomes mangled by the insidiousness of the prejudice swirling around them. It has remained a favorite of mine to read (and to teach). Having finished The Street, I can now say that Petry can write about the devastations of racism like no one else. She one-ups Richard Wright by tackling a similar political agenda but without sac ...more
Charlotte
I found the The Street by Ann Petry devastating. Almost too much realism, I could only take so much at any one sitting. Then, I would have to put it down and only pick it up again later, when I felt ready for more.

The descriptive prose and imagery were beautiful; she grips you from the very beginning:

There was a cold November wind blowing through 116th Street. It rattled the tops of garbage cans, sucked window shades out through the top of opened windows and set them flapping back against the wi
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Christy
The Street is a novel in the tradition of Richard Wright's Native Son. It is concerned with the lives of poor urban African Americans during the 1940s and it provides a gritty, realistic view of their lives. Petry's novel is even more convincing an argument than Wright's, however. Where Wright's work gains power through its almost claustrophobic focus on Bigger, Petry is able to provide the reader with insights into multiple characters on the street, even though her focus is primarily Lutie John ...more
Rachel Kowal
I had very mixed feelings about this one. I finished it surprisingly quickly for its size - the narrative (single mom raising her kid in Harlem in the 1940s) is easy to get into. Kind of reminded me of an African American version of Henry Roth's Call It Sleep (though I think I preferred Roth). Petry's voice is at times lyrical. But man, oh man is it heavy handed. Ultimately the antagonist ends up being poverty, but no one really gets off too easily - especially men. The forcefulness of the hatre ...more
Caroline Alicia
Loved this book. even though I was resentful for days after reading it. It's sad to say not much has changed. Other than the fact White people can't outright call you a nigger without getting flash from the rest of society, who knows what they say among each other though.

i was reading amazon reviews and it's amazing how many people just don't get it. I guess it's something you can't get unless you were born in brown skin in this country. To be past over denied.. and to have people tell you "get
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KarenLee
When I realized I was spending more time thinking about whether I wanted to continue reading this book than I was thinking about the book, I decided to quit. The book is well written with an interesting story, but it moved too slowly for me.
sweet pea
why The Street isn't in the pantheon of classics confounds me. while it's true some of the descriptions drag on, the perspective of the novel is brilliant and illuminating. the story is mostly Lutie Johnson's to tell. but other inhabitants of the city street in Harlem in the 1940s have their turn to tell their story. the story is inspirational in parts as Lutie struggles to get out of her conditions. but mostly it is disheartening as she goes against the endemic racism that prohibits her from su ...more
Petra Robertson
Once I had gotten past the misspelled and wrong words, I had to then get around the jerkiness of the transitions from scene to scene and from character to character. "The Street" by Ann Petry, tells the story of Lutie Johnson, an African American female trying to raise her young son, Bub on her own in 1940's Harlem. Even though a lot of the plot was predictable, there is a lot of character development that lets the reader see what life was like during this era for this particular demographic.
Lut
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laysia!!!!
Jul 21, 2014 laysia!!!! is currently reading it
so far reading the street by ann petry is actually a pretty interesting a well - detailed book . i feel like when i read it i can actually see and witness everything going on . i love how at the beginning of the book the wind was portrayed as a person or a bully of some sort . the wind tried to still people's pride and joy AND thier scarves and hats
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Ann Petry (October 12, 1908 – April 28, 1997) was an American author who became the first black woman writer with book sales topping a million copies for her novel The Street.

The wish to become a professional writer was raised in Ann for the first time in high school when her English teacher read her essay to the class commenting on it with the words: “I honestly believe that you could be a writer
...more
More about Ann Petry...
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“Her voice had a thin thread of sadness running through it that made the song important, that made it tell a story that wasn’t in the words – a story of despair, of loneliness, of frustration. It was a story that all of them knew by heart and had always known because they had learned it soon after they were born and would go on adding to it until the day they died.” 5 likes
“The snow fell softly on the street. It muffled sound. It sent people scurrying homeward, so that the street was soon deserted, empty, quiet. And it could have been any street in the city, for the snow laid a delicate film over the sidewalk, over the brick of the tired, old buildings; gently obscuring the grime and the garbage and the ugliness.” 4 likes
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