Book review: Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson

Woodson, Jacqueline. Another Brooklyn. Amistad, 2016. HC. $22.99. ISBN 978-0062359988.

I met multi-award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson many years ago at a young adult literature conference. At that time, she was rapidly becoming an icon in YA writing circles, and was much acclaimed for her inclusion of LGBT characters and themes. Now, thanks to its status as a 2016 National Book Award Adult Fiction finalist, this new novel introduces older audiences to what her younger readers have always known: Woodson is one of her generation’s most poetically lyrical writers.

On a trip back to Brooklyn following her father’s death, narrator August recalls her 1970s childhood, which she spent with a father finding religion, a younger brother, and memories of a mother who deserted them. She gleans strength and refuge from her running girl buddies Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi, all of whom have issues and dreams of their own. Their bond brings joy and hope to them all, though the real world still impinges upon their adolescence.

Woodson’s writing style is economical, but unfailingly mesmerizing; this memoir-ish novel becomes stream of consciousness at times, playing with chronology, then keenly descriptive and realistic. Readers seeking a linear plot may be disappointed, but the journey she offers us is worth whatever patience may be required.

This book is recommended for all fiction collections, particularly those emphasizing materials of African-American interest. Jacqueline Woodson reinforces her enduring novelistic legacy, with universal themes and unsurpassed craft.

 

Cathy Ritchie

Acquisitions/Selection Services

Dallas (TX) Public Library

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