NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • A “boisterous and infectious debut novel” (The Guardian) about a group of friends and their immigrant families from Queens, New York—a tenderly observed, fiercely poetic love letter to a modern generation of brown girls.
“An acute study of those tender moments of becoming, this is an ode to girlhood, inheritance, and the good trouble the body yields.”—Raven Leilani, author of Luster
FINALIST: The New American Voices Award, The Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, The New American Voices Award, The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: PopSugar, Kirkus Reviews
If you really want to know, we are the color of 7-Eleven root beer. The color of sand at Rockaway Beach when it blisters the bottoms of our feet. Color of soil . . .
Welcome to Queens, New York, where streets echo with languages from all over the globe, subways rumble above dollar stores, trees bloom and topple over sidewalks, and the funky scent of the Atlantic Ocean wafts in from Rockaway Beach. Within one of New York City’s most vibrant and eclectic boroughs, young women of color like Nadira, Gabby, Naz, Trish, Angelique, and countless others, attempt to reconcile their immigrant backgrounds with the American culture in which they come of age. Here, they become friends for life—or so they vow.
Exuberant and wild, together they roam The City That Never Sleeps, sing Mariah Carey at the tops of their lungs, yearn for crushes who pay them no mind—and break the hearts of those who do—all while trying to heed their mothers’ commands to be obedient daughters. But as they age, their paths diverge and rifts form between them, as some choose to remain on familiar streets, while others find themselves ascending in the world, beckoned by existences foreign and seemingly at odds with their humble roots.
A blazingly original debut novel told by a chorus of unforgettable voices, Brown Girls illustrates a collective portrait of childhood, adulthood, and beyond, and is a striking exploration of female friendship, a powerful depiction of women of color attempting to forge their place in the world today. For even as the conflicting desires of ambition and loyalty, freedom and commitment, adventure and stability risk dividing them, it is to one another—and to Queens—that the girls ultimately return.
Andreades's underwhelming debut follows a group of young women of color who grow up in the "dregs of Queens." Narrated using the first-person plural "we," the story follows the trajectories of girls who, by age 10, have learned to never talk back, stay quiet in the face of bullying, and accept that the outside world is oblivious to their different shades of brown (more than a dozen of their names are first heard in reference to the teachers' confusion over who is who: "They call us Khadija, Akanksha, Maribeth, Ximena, Breonna, Cherelle, Thanh, Yoon, Ellen"). At 13, they secretly crush on brown boys (considered "trouble" in their parents' eyes) and experiment with makeup to make their skin lighter. At 15, they part ways, as some start high school outside of Queens, while others stay near home. At 18, a rift forms as they leave for different colleges and realize that in their home neighborhoods, they must downplay their intelligence and keep their ambitions to themselves. Still, they try to stay in touch as they navigate predominantly white spaces. The prose is often simplistic, and there is little character complexity beyond the women's contrasting paths. Unfortunately, the first-person-plural narration robs the work of nuance and oversimplifies complex ideas about race and identity.
Not for me
I reading this book for class and what I have to say is it’s an easy read, no doubt it’s fairly simple and uses modern language. As for the way the book is structured, it’s a bit difficult to follow and dissect (at least for me). There are many ways the book is separated and follows its plot in vignettes. Overall it’s not bad, but if you’re into vignettes and coming of age books this is for you, if not then this isn’t for you.
Not my cup of tea.
I can’t tell you what this book is about it’s all over the place!! No really plot or story line.