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Jacqueline Woodson – Another Brooklyn

Posted in Book reviews, and Fiction

Another Brooklyn is an ode to past, to young womanhood, complexity of life and feelings lost somewhere on the way to adulthood. The main character August returns to New York when her father is dying of cancer. Meeting one of her closest childhood friend triggers in August remembering old times of growing up as a black girl in Brooklyn.

Reading about Brooklyn in 1970s was a gorgeous experience. I’ve never been there, but I have read enough books to be able at least dream realistically about its smells, sounds and people. (Speaking of, another novel about Brooklyn in my TBR pile is for example famous A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.) It made me emotional to read about places and foods which no longer exist, except in people’s memories and can’t imagine how strongly it must speak to locals, experiencing waves of gentrification year after year. Is it still the same place?

The time line of Another Brooklyn isn’t the straightforward one, but rather switches between few years apart back in 1970’ and present. Being born long after 1970s and on a different continent, it made it harder for me to fully understand all the aspects, even though I have some consciousness about American history.

Another Brooklyn is more than guide to Brooklyn of the past, it is a beautifully written piece about relationships among family members and friends in all their fragility. It speaks about haunting of broken promises, about broken dreams and lies we’ve told ourselves, when we couldn’t know better yet. There is a drug epidemic, mental health issues, war veterans and mixture of religion – it almost seems like nothing much had really changed. I loved how such short novel has portrayed sisterhood in a real way, in the world which doesn’t treat everyone equally. Jacqueline writes about how being someone’s best friend and being together on the way to adolescence, doesn’t guarantee all dreams and promises becoming true. Time passes and place and people change, it’s refreshing to see it written, how these events can happen gradually or all at once, without any reason. That’s the way our life plays us. Possibilities appear in front of us just in time for a tragedy taking them away.

Sometimes I wonder whether not only people, but places have their memories too – how communities used to look like, what was the atmosphere back in the past and how it has changed. Not sure how this could be truth, but it’s daunting to see buildings and people disappear, leaving us only with memories slowly fading away. Yet Another Brooklyn is a brilliant novel, turning fiction into poetry, and healing our hearts a little with its captivating words.

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