Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Street” as Want to Read:
The Street
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Street

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  6,691 ratings  ·  760 reviews
As much a historical document as it is a novel, this 1946 winner of the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award is the poignant and unblinkingly honest story of Lutie Johnson, a young black woman, and her spirited struggle to live and raise her son by herself amidtheviolence, poverty, and racial dissonance of Harlem in the late 1940s. Originally published in 1946 and ha ...more
Published March 1st 2013 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1946)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Street, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Karen What do you mean by "clean"?

I think there is a little swearing. There are references to sex. There is malice, cruelty, jealousy, entitlement, determin…more
What do you mean by "clean"?

I think there is a little swearing. There are references to sex. There is malice, cruelty, jealousy, entitlement, determination, trust, betrayal, greed, hard work, all of it completely realistic, believeable, and infuriating. If my 13-year-old son would read it, I wouldn't stop him. He is pretty thick-skinned and does not take fiction to heart. My daughter is now 7; I don't know what she'll be like at 13 but she is a little more tender-hearted and I might suggest that she wait until she's 15 before reading something so heartbreaking.(less)
Angela Jenkins-bey PG-13 yes, it could go to R if you really want to focus in on the horrors of the burn scene, and the goings on of the call girls.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,691 ratings  ·  760 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Street
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
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: Aubrey
The street could motivate or obliterate. The street could consume and devour. Here, the street is a personified stronghold; dreams come alive or they burn because of the street.

Sometimes I start the first few pages of a book and realize immediately that it will have a treasured rating on my physical and goodreads shelves. Sometimes, after the finality, I sit in silence and thumb the highlighted pages of my copy, flipping again through its contents physically and mentally, attempting to pinpoint
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 pay heed instead to a post describing
The Artisan Geek
What a ride! Such a stellar and heartbreaking book. I'm so glad I got to read this with my book club 😭It's now one of my all-time favourites!

Reading this book with my patrons this month, SO EXCITED!!

Found this one during one of my book scavenging trips through London! :D

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
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
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, overdrive
This book treats, with unflinching clarity, the poverty, racism and sexism that trap the young black woman Lutie Johnson. Her husband is unable to find work so she takes a job as a maid in the suburbs. This separates her from her husband and son for weeks at a time, leading to the destruction of the marriage. She and her 8 year old son Bub wind up living in the only apartment she can afford on 116th Street in Harlem. Every step Ludie takes to pull herself up is thwarted by her color, her lack of ...more
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zanna by: Adrienne
Lutie Johnson does everything 'right'. She works hard, struggles to save, puts her son first, tries to protect him from loneliness, discomfort and the influences of the street full of poor, struggling folks. While working for a white family as a live-in housekeeper, she absorbed the philosophy the men espoused – wealth is available to anyone who works for it in this country. She studies, gets a 'respectable' white collar job, and keeps studying so that she can some day get a piddling promotion. ...more
chantel nouseforaname
What an ending! I didn’t see it coming, but it did feel like Lutie Johnson (the main character) was teetering on the edge since page one and I guess they pushed her too many times. I feel like The Street relates so much so to the here and now. It’s 70 years later and has many things changed? Not really.

This book was an excercise in how not to lose your mind; but it’s so much more than that. It’s about how microaggressions and racism can push a woman to the extreme ends of sanity and rage.
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
“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’s easy to think you understand the impacts of racism, the need to break the cycle of poverty, the ramifications of oppression. But what art can do, what fiction specifically can do, is enhance that understanding, by bringing you right up to the reality of it--as close as you can get without living it your
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
A blurb on the back cover of my edition calls The Street "as much a historical document as it is a novel". I think that is accurate. The novel records the corrosive effects of racism, poverty and sexism on Lutie Johnson, a single mother, living in Harlem in the mid 1940s. The grim existence of Lutie and others on the street is unrelenting - and left me reeling.
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. Grim and depressing, Ann Petry’s fantastic book wonderfully described the ever-increasing stresses upon Lutie Johnson. A single mother trying to raise her son well and give them both better options than their current situation, I felt her exhaustion, fear, anger and frustration with all the ways a black woman and single mother with little money was constantly kept living on the edge. Lutie is well characterized, and I felt sadness but also anger at everyone trying to take advantage of ...more
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was published over 60 ago. 60 years ago, a single black mother in Harlem had the same exact heartaches that a single black mother in the United States is having right now. We have all been affected by "The Street" in some way, shape, or form and the fact that this physical and literal "street" still exist is just.....well it's sad.

This story is so real, so tragically beautiful, so humbling....I'm really at a loss for words.
Nancy Oakes
Jan 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
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
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, favorites
Finally I have a new favourite! After a whole month of just average reads this was a God sent. Disillusionment arcs are my actual favourite (have you heard of Michael Corleone?) but they're really difficult to execute. I am glad that The Street didn't disappoint me in Lutie's descent.

The cast is shockingly small, yet is rich in detail and leaves enough unsaid. The complex racial tensions in a post WWII America, the overwhelming misogyny, and most importantly: the challenges and degradation of p
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This booked moved patiently and by the end I was floored. GREAT BOOK!
Anna Luce
“A woman living alone didn’t stand much chance.”

Ann Petry is a terrific writer. The precise way in which she articulates the thoughts and various state of minds of her characters brought to my mind the writing of Nella Larsen and Edith Wharton. But whereas I could stand the cynicism and tragic finales of Wharton's novels (in which usually horrible things happen to privileged, and often horrible, individuals) I had a hard time stomaching the ending in The Street.

Set in 1940s The Street follows
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
It’s clear that I am more in the minority here than ever before, so I suspect I will have to be especially diplomatic regarding my thoughts.

I wanted to love this. I really, really did. The Street has a compelling setup: the journey of a young woman struggling for independence amid the poverty and brutality of 1940s Harlem, all the while charged with the determination to protect her young son. Petry’s tale is uncannily prescient, and her eloquence in delineating racial dissonance and female sexua
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
A Goodreads algorithm proposed Ann Petry’s 1946 The Street to me, presumably on the grounds that I had recently read another neglected pre-Civil Rights African-American novel, William M. Kelley’s A Different Drummer. You could hardly have two more different approaches to the issue of race than Kelley’s poised experimentalism, and Petry’s raw, unremitting realism, but I liked both novels, in very different ways, and I think that both will stay with me.

I must say I think A Different Drummer is sup
Chris Blocker
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-2013
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
I think this is the best social commentary novel I've read in recent years. It's just that with the social commentary books I've read, I almost always encounter one (or more of the following) problems that make it impossible for me to rate the book highly: 1) The integrity of the characters is destroyed by the fact the author values delivering the message more highly than maintaining the aliveness of the characters 2) The message and observations are now quite dated, even if they might have been ...more
Lisa Reads & Reviews
[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
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ann Petry’s The Street was an instant fave for me. Published 74 years ago, this book is about everything that is causing the disproportionate deaths of Black people in the current covid pandemic. The story of a young mother struggling to create a life for her 8 year old son in a Harlem tenement, this book looks at poverty, racism, addiction, the systemic dissolution of the Black family, the boot on the neck of Black men looking to live meaningful lives, the subsequent indenturement of Black wome ...more
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Check out my thoughts by clicking the link below

I have conflicting thoughts on this book. It was beautifully written. The story is just so heartbreaking.

A few days have passed and my mind is still blown! I wish there was more.....

This book was just REAL life. That's the only way I can properly phrase it.
robin friedman
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Second Visit To The Street

Many years ago, I read Ann Petry's novel "The Street" (1946) with a book group. As often happens, people disagreed in their responses to the book. I was among those that, on balance, didn't like it. In the intervening years, as the book group and my reading continued, I had the feeling that I had been too harsh on "The Street" and should read it again by myself. I finally did so with a new book from the Library of America which includes "The Street" together with Petr
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kobo-read
This is the story of Lutie Johnson and her son Bub. They are African Americans living in Harlem, probably sometime in the forties. The characters in this story were extremely well drawn, to the point that you, as the reader, could feel that you were those people and lived where they lived and could smell the street and see the garbage and corruption.

Lutie worked and studied very hard in order to try to pull them up out of poverty, but life was against her. African American men were refused jobs
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ann Petry's novel "The Street" is a detailed literary depiction of a rough neighborhood in 1940s Harlem. Using a third-person omniscient narrative voice, Petry draws readers into the intense nuances of hard-scrabble living in a place with flecks of beauty/respite, but mostly confrontation, manipulation, and defeat. Interestingly enough, Petry was born and raised in a comfortable middle-class home in Connecticut. Her father was a pharmacist who had his own pharmacy and her mother was also a shop ...more
Hayley Stenger
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I read this book since it was a pick for the Now Read This (PBS/New York Times) Bookclub. I saw the cover a couple of months ago, a cover in black and white and knew it was dated. I read the synopsis, that this was about racism and sexism, and decided to myself that that was probably dated as well. I was wrong in the best kind of way. I could see, smell and feel every part of this book and felt like I was living with Lutie and Bub in their 4th story walk-up. The struggles Lutie dealt with w ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Huntsville-Madiso...: Hoopla Pick - May 29 1 6 May 29, 2020 11:40AM  
500 Great Books B...: The Street - Ann Petry 3 49 Jun 18, 2017 12:44PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • American Spy
  • Disappearing Earth
  • Crossing the Line: Lessons from a Life on Duty
  • The Fall of the House of Byron: Scandal and Seduction in Georgian England
  • The Butchers of Berlin
  • Crossriggs
  • The Boy With Two Hearts
  • Maud Martha
  • Brixton Hill
  • No Man's Land: The Trailblazing Women Who Ran Britain’s Most Extraordinary Military Hospital During World War I
  • The See-Through House: My Father in Full Colour
  • Citizen: An American Lyric
  • Die Bagage
  • Deacon King Kong
  • The Night Watchman
  • Uncle Tom's Children
  • Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson
  • Brown Girl, Brownstones
See similar books…
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

News & Interviews

Magic and myth, getting real and standing up for what’s right, love and longing, growing up and falling in love. Get ready for some of the best...
79 likes · 22 comments
“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.” 19 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.” 7 likes
More quotes…