In a timely update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic. A smart, funny, gorgeous retelling starring all characters of color.
Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.
When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.
But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.
"Zoboi skillfully depicts the vicissitudes of teenage relationships, and Zuri’s outsize pride and poetic sensibility make her a sympathetic teenager in a contemporary story about race, gentrification, and young love." (Publishers Weekly, "An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List")
"It's a truth universally acknowledged that when rich people move into the hood... the first thing they want to do is clean it up," begins this Pride and Prejudice retelling that stands solidly on its own while cleverly paralleling Austen's classic about five economically challenged sisters. In the role of sharp-tongued Lizzie Bennett is Zuri Benitez, who loves her family, her Haitian-Dominican heritage, and her ethnically diverse neighborhood: Brooklyn's Bushwick. She's less excited about the prospect of the neighborhood gentrifying, but the arrival of the handsome, wealthy black Darcy brothers, who move into a newly renovated mini-mansion on her block, catalyzes a plot studded with detailed nuances of culture clash. An ambitious poet with dreams of Howard University, Zuri (the family's "hard candy shell, the protector") fights her attraction to the younger Darius as her older sister, Janae, is swept up in Ainsley's attentions. Zoboi (American Street) skillfully depicts the vicissitudes of teenage relationships, and Zuri's outsize pride and poetic sensibility make her a sympathetic teenager in a contemporary story about race, gentrification, and young love. Ages 13 up.
I enjoyed this book, great way to modernize a classic...well done!
A Relevant Retelling!
I loved this story. While there were multiple elements of Pride and Prejudice, I enjoyed the modern twist that brought up very important issues. Our experiences and circumstances shape us in a way, whether we are trying to fit into our environment or trying to purposely stand apart from it. While we may share parts of our cultural identity with others, that doesn't always make us the same. This book took on thoughts around cultural identity, socioeconomic status, and what we think it means to be black, rich, etc. How we judge whether someone is enough, or whether they meet our standard of a cultural identity. There is also this underlying idea of accepting and being proud of who you are, but also not being afraid of change that is inevitable.
Another topic I thought was beautifully handdled was the many facets of gentrification. This is a real and relevant issue, because many of us disregard what is different, or history that may not include us, yet is still so important. We tend to just want to improve things the way we think they should be improved (which is not always the best for everyone else).
Which leads me to one of my favorite parts of this book, the family dynamics of the Benitez's. They celebrate their culture identity, and the history of their neighborhood. They treat neighbors as family, and truly care about others. They support each other in such a beautiful way. Honestly, the connection is just inspiring. I would definitely recommend this book!