Julie's Reviews > Another Brooklyn

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
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really liked it
bookshelves: cultural, e-book, overdrive, ya, historical-fiction

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson is a 2016 Amistad publication.

Extraordinary, emotional, touching and bittersweet.

Because this author has mostly written within the young adult and middle grade genres, she has never popped up on my radar. But, when I noticed this book was a National Book Award finalist, and was creating a little buzz, I decided to take a closer look.

As I have mentioned several times before, the ‘coming of age’ trope is not one of my favorites, and this book obviously falls into that category, but the time period the book was set in, piqued my interest, and was ultimately the deciding factor for me.

Having no idea, really, what to expect, I was instantly drawn in by August’s first person narrative, and before I knew it, I had spent my entire morning reading this novel, unable to tear myself away from it.

When August, a world traveled anthropologist, returns to Brooklyn to care for her father who is dying of liver cancer, she has a brief run in with a childhood friend, which sparks a flood memories, which is at the center of his poignant coming of age tale.

In the 1973, August’s mother slips into a form of mental illness, becoming a danger to her children, prompting her father to move them away from Tennessee to Brooklyn, New York.

Every day August tells her brother their mother will join them tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow….

In the meantime, her father takes comfort from his new religious conversion to Islam as did her brother, but August finds strength and consolation from her new friends, Angela, Gigi, and Sylvia.

This story chronicles August’s life in her Bushwick area of Brooklyn in the 1970’s. The white population is fleeing the area, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rican residents were moving in steadily, the drug problems and the extreme dangers for young girls who are always at risk for some form of sexual assault, sets the stage for what turns out to be a day to day battle, for August and her friends, who are determined to avoid the pitfalls and traps all around them to obtain their goals, dreams, and desires.

August experiences all the pains and triumphs of growing up, from first loves, tragedies, betrayals, heartbreak, teaching her important life lessons along the way, and eventually becomes the catalyst that finally breaks loose long denied truths, shaping her adult life in ways she may not have realized.

This is a poignant tale, superbly written, capturing the essence of the times, the angst of heartbreak, the troublesome aspects of mental illness, and the importance of family and friends. The sad tale, which triggers a memory within August, finally allowing her to come to terms with the realities of her life, despite her vehement denial of events that brought her family to Brooklyn in the first place.

I wish books had soundtracks the same way movies do, because this book has a superb 1970's soundtrack,which I could almost hear running in the background, which was certainly fun to think back on. August’s discussion regarding memory is initially harmful for her, painful to her, turns into a comfort in time. It’s thought provoking the way the mind moves in to protect us at times, preserving those memories for a time when we’re able to cope with them better.

Although this story is often emotional, distressing, and sad, it is also, moving and stirring, but the loudest voice I heard, the deepest message I took away from this lovely, and beautifully written novel, was hope.

Overall, I am super impressed with this author and her writing skills, and can certainly understand why this novel has garnered so much praise.

4 stars

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Reading Progress

October 9, 2016 – Shelved
October 9, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
October 9, 2016 – Shelved as: cultural
October 9, 2016 – Shelved as: e-book
October 9, 2016 – Shelved as: overdrive
October 9, 2016 – Shelved as: ya
October 9, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
November 3, 2016 – Started Reading
November 3, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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Julie Stephanie wrote: "Great review, Julie! On my list!"

Thank you, Stephanie!!

message 2: by Kaceey (new)

Kaceey Great review Julie!

message 3: by Zoeytron (new) - added it

Zoeytron Wonderful review, Julie. Added!

Julie kaceey wrote: "Great review Julie!"

Thank you, Kaceey!!

Julie Zoeytron wrote: "Wonderful review, Julie. Added!"

Thank you, Zoeytron!! Enjoy!!

Lata Lovely!

Julie Lata wrote: "Lovely!"

Thank you, Lata!!

message 8: by Mike (new)

Mike Fantastic review, Julie. Glad you enjoyed this one. Hard to go wrong with a 70's soundtrack playing in the background.

Julie Mike wrote: "Fantastic review, Julie. Glad you enjoyed this one. Hard to go wrong with a 70's soundtrack playing in the background."

Thanks Mike!!

Mary Beth *Traveling Sister* Excellent review Julie!

Julie Mary wrote: "Excellent review Julie!"

Thank you, Mary!!

Elyse Walters Love your soundtrack idea!!!! I found myself singing along to a couple of the songs ...,
Great idea - great review

Julie Elyse wrote: "Love your soundtrack idea!!!! I found myself singing along to a couple of the songs ...,
Great idea - great review"

Thank you, Elyse!!

message 14: by Maureen (new)

Maureen Lovely review there Julie.

Julie Maureen wrote: "Lovely review there Julie."

Thank you, Maureen!!

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