Tag Archives: Another Brooklyn

Book Club Reflection: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

18 Jun

My book club met last week to talk about Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn. I enjoyed the book a lot myself but it had been almost three weeks since I finished it when we finally met. I was a bit fuzzy on the details of the story so I did a lot of listening.

This book was selected as the National African American Read-In book for Black History Month in February. Our group sponsor had read it for that and enjoyed it so much that she put it on our docket.

Woodson was born and raised in Columbus, South Carolina, and New York City. She currently lives in New York. A lot of her other books are either picture books or ones aimed at a YA audience.

The style was very poetic. Others described it as a dream and feeling like a stream of consciousness. The structure of the book was very non-linear. Some people disliked that structure. One reader described it as a ‘Swiss cheese’ story because of all the holes in the plot. One of the times we talked most about her non-linear writing was when there was a trauma. When Gigi was raped, when Angela’s mother died, the death of August’s own mother. All of these were alluded to, circled around, and the event itself only stated outright after we’d heard the effects and feelings of those involved.

We loved the female friendships in this book. The girls grew from 8 to 16 during the book and it was easy to see the intensity of young female friendships during this time. They acted like mothers to each other when they needed it. This complicated their relationships as well because disappointing a friend or being betrayed by her was as painful as disappointing your mother or being betrayed by family. August had a series of mother figures in the book. Her friends, their mothers, her dad’s girlfriends, and other women served in guiding her to womanhood. One of the few memories she shares of her mother is being warned not to let other women too close to you. We wondered if this influenced her inability to forgive Sylvia on the train. Maybe she was mad Sylvia had children when she didn’t. Maybe she was shutting herself off emotionally, the way she had when her mother died. Or maybe she’d started taking her mother’s advice.

Again, the bits about August’s mother were very cyclical so it’s not completely clear what happened to her. We suspect she may have been paranoid schizophrenic. Maybe just paranoid. She seemed to be suspicious of her husband being with other women all the time and didn’t trust anyone. This may have been the source of her advice to August. We don’t know if she had reason to be suspicious of her husband. We thought it was odd advice to give a daughter not to have close friends so wondered where the anger came from. August had shut down completely when her mother died to the point that she doesn’t remember it. She hints at it many times, remembering the funeral and leaving with her father. We debated if it was a coping mechanism that kept her from realizing her mother was dead or if she was too young to understand what it meant to die and she really believed her mother would follow them to Brooklyn. It seems that her brother was too young to understand but August was at an age right in the middle. Did her father explain to her what happened, or did he hide some of the truth to save his children the pain? Her later interest in anthropology and death traditions seemed to be a way for August to look at how she should mourn and what to do when someone dies.

The father was left with a difficult situation and he did fairly well. They may have been poor but they were clean, fed, and clothed. August comments on how other children were not so lucky. Her father is also resourceful, sending her across the street to a woman who can braid her hair for her since he doesn’t know how. Sister Sonja was a great woman for August and her brother to have in their lives. Their father may have dated a lot of women, but the ones that stuck around were good people. Her father didn’t have the friendships and community that August found in her friends. He and her brother turned to religion for their community.

I thought the title referred to the difference between the Brooklyn August remembers and the one she sees when returning for her father’s funeral. Someone else proposed that it’s a contrast to Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I love this idea, how two stories in the same place can be so different.

The ending was hopeful for August. She had something to look forward to, a life she’d made for herself. The other girls didn’t have as much hope. They were stuck in the new Brooklyn and it was so different from the one August loved.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Advertisements

WWW Wednesday, 6-June-2018

6 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I haven’t really touched The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver because of school. I thought I might get through some of it, but I’ve only just started chapter two. I think this one will be here for quite a while.
I’m about done with A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson. I’ve been really enjoying this story and Bryson’s story about hiking the trail. He does a great job of interweaving his story with the history of the area and leaving me feeling informed and invigorated to go for a hike!
I was sick last week so I didn’t work out much and as a result, I didn’t get through much of Dreams of Joy by Lisa See. I hope to keep making some progress on this during the week and then possibly do more for a long run this weekend.
The only book I’ve made decent progress on is The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. I’m not really enjoying this, per say, but I’m very interested in it and what it has to say. I have to keep remembering that it was written almost fifty years ago and it reminds me how much the world has changed.

Recently finished: I got nothing this week. It’s been very busy and on the bright side, I did well on my midterm! I was able to post my review of Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson yesterday so please check that out.

Reading Next: I’m holding onto Brainiac by Ken Jennings to start when I finish Friedan. I think that one will be a quick read.
I’m hoping to start Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club as my next car audiobook. I’ve been wanting to read something by Tan for a while and I think this hit will be a good place to start.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (4/5)

5 Jun

When my book club picked this title, I immediately looked to see if the audiobook was available. It makes my life a lot easier to have an audiobook than to squeeze a physical book in. I thought it was a mistake to see that it was only 2:30 long. But it’s true! This little gem is a slim book but it’s also really short, written more in verse than in prose. I knocked it out in under a week.

Cover image via Goodreads

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Summary from Goodreads:

Running into a long-ago friend sets memories from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.

But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

This was my first Jacqueline Woodson book so I wasn’t sure what to expect with the writing style. I was surprised that the audiobook was only 2.5 hours and when I heard how lyrical the writing was, it made more sense to me. I loved listening to this book and getting to enjoy the sound of it as much as I enjoyed the story. I don’t know how typical August’s story was for the time and place or if she had a unique story from her childhood, but it felt like a story of the city, not just of four girls. I think Woodson did a wonderful job of winding these three girls stories together and showing how the world could rip them apart.

The characters felt very real to me. I remember as a girl feeling unstoppable and powerful like August and her friends. I remembering wanting boys to leave us alone because being a girl was too much fun to confuse with boys and feelings. I enjoyed seeing how life tore the girls apart. Sometimes it feels like that happens so slowly that you can’t pinpoint why it happens and I felt Woodson gave us reasons but also showed the slow degradation of friendships.

August was my favorite character. This is probably biased because she narrated. It felt safe to pick her as a favorite because we know from the beginning that she goes on to have a good life. I’m always sad when my favorite character has a bad fate in the end but August is an educated world traveler. I wished there was a little more about her brother because his life seemed to parallel his sister’s in the end, being what she would have if she’d stayed in Brooklyn. I thought he helped to emphasize that she’d taken control of her life and made a point of making it different from the path that was set for her.

I related to the characters sense of youthful invincibility. I remember feeling like I could do anything and the world would bend to my will. It didn’t last long and in retrospect, it seems stupid, but at the time, nothing could stop me. I’d forgotten that feeling before I read this book. It’s great that Woodson is able to remember it.

Jacqueline Woodson
Image via NPR

I enjoyed how Woodson slowly revealed the truth about August’s mother. I had suspicions, but I was afraid to guess for sure. The ways she and her brother reacted to her father’s girlfriends was very moving for me considering August’s memories of her mother and how close she kept her to her heart. I had to go back and reference my physical copy because I tuned out for one second to the audiobook and missed it and knew it had been something big.

Hearing about the girls drifting apart was hard. The life choices and happenings that drew them apart were hard to process. Some of them were happy, others sad, but the grief of losing a friend always overshadowed it. Though you couldn’t focus on that, because something bigger was going on. Losing a friend was just a side effect.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Robin Miles. I loved how she read the lyrical words of this book and I felt she gave the story the weight it needed. It was an emotional read and Miles felt the words and shared the story in a wonderful way.

The world changes forever when we’re young and have to grow up. It can be a very trying time for young girls who have to realize not only that the world is cruel, but that it is inherently unfair. These girls learned that hard message, each in their own way. Boys change into men and you never look at them quite the same. You change into a woman and you start to see yourself the way others do.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book had some of the lyricism I normally associate with poetry but it was clearly a novel. Woodson did a great job of combining what I’m assuming is an inclination toward poetry with a long-form novel. Though the result is short, it’s very impactful and a ton of fun to read. Poetic prose is great for an emotional book and really helps pack a punch.

This was a fun, quick read and I’m looking forward to talking with my book club about it. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the 1960-1979 time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Review of “Another Brooklyn” by Jacqueline Woodson | Rhapsody in Books Weblog
Book of the Week: Another Brooklyn- Jacqueline Woodson | Advanced Readers Edition
REVIEW: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson | Introspective Yarns

 

WWW Wednesday, 23-May-2018

23 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I haven’t made much progress with The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I’ve been getting my school reading done during lunch at work so I’m not falling behind in that, but I’m not getting ahead in reading. I expect this will be on this list for a while.
I sped through The Sellout by Paul Beatty but didn’t quite finish it in time for my book club meeting. I’m still going to finish it but it’s a little bittersweet knowing more about the ending than I otherwise would. Oh well.
I’ve had some good movement with audiobooks! I wasn’t able to get The Joy Luck Club as fast as I wanted to so I started A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson instead. This is making me excited for summer and thinking about getting the gear so I can be a backpacker soon! I’ve wanted to do some longer hikes for a while but I don’t have the gear… yet.
I also started another eaudiobook. I picked up Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt. I read his critically acclaimed The Goal in college and I’m excited to see what else this business master has to share.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne last Wednesday right before bed. I really adored this book and I’m surprised how few reviews of it I found after posting. It seems it wasn’t widely distributed even though it was well received. My review will be up tomorrow.
I plowed through Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson on my errands and drive to school. This was a great, albeit short book and it’s making me curious about what else Woodson has written. Does anyone have recommendations for more by her?

I posted my review of Mister Monkey by Francine Prose on Thursday last week and my book club reflection of it went up yesterday. The book was good but it didn’t blow me away. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’m set on audiobooks for a while so it looks like I’ll get to pick a physical book next. I keep knocking down my towering TBR from the top and next up is Brainiac by Ken Jennings. My mom raised me on Jeopardy! so I watched Jennings in his legendary run on the show. I’m interested to see what he has to say about the world of competitive trivia and learn a little more about a person who can pack so many facts into his head!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 16-May-2018

16 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’ll be finished with The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne pretty soon. I’m really enjoying this memoir and I’m realizing how long it’s been since I read a memoir. Hanagarne’s sense of humor is keeping me reading though he’s going through some very tough times in his life.
I’m not very far into The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver so it’s hard to really say how I’m feeling about it at the moment. I like it so far but I know this one will be on here for a while as I enjoy it slowly.
I haven’t had a ton of time to read The Sellout by Paul Beatty either. The prose is very poetic and I’m reading it slowly because of that. I think I’ll finish it in time for my book club meeting but it will probably be closer than I’d like to admit!
I’ve just started Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson on audio. I think it’s the full book but with it being so short, I’m still a little unsure! I guess we’ll see when my book club meets again.

Recently finished: I finished Mister Monkey by Francine Prose on Friday night. Overall, I enjoyed the book though there were some parts that rubbed me the wrong way or that didn’t flow logically for me. We met to discuss it on Monday but I wrote my review before the conversation could taint my opinions. The review will post tomorrow and my book club reflection will be up next week.

I’ve made a push for book reviews and I managed to post a few. Monday I posted my review of John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines. I gave the book 3 out of 5 Stars.
I also reviewed Ellyn Spragins’ What I Know Now. It’s a collection of letters that she helped famous women write. I gave it 3 out of 5 Stars as well.

Reading Next: I’ll need another audiobook for my car next. With all the driving I’m doing for school this semester, I’ll go through these rather quickly. I’ll be picking up Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club next. I’ve heard good things and I’m excited to enjoy this one while I drive to class.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 9-May-2018

9 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m enjoying Mister Monkey by Francine Prose and I think I’ll have it finished by next week. The audiobook is well done and I’ve started doing my long runs so I get through audiobooks on my phone fairly quickly. I like finding the connections between the plot lines and I’ve had fun guessing who the next narrator will be.
I’m not too far into The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne but it’s a joy so far. Hanagarne is able to make fun of himself and his childhood and at the same time convey how hard it is to live with Tourette’s. I’m enjoying the tone he picked for the book and I’m excited to keep reading.
My next ebook is The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I added it to my list after I enjoyed another Shriver book. I’m a bit too early in this one to tell how I feel about it and I’m not reading it quickly so expect this one to linger here for a while.
Over the weekend, I started a new physical book with The Sellout by Paul Beatty. I almost read this about a year ago but was going to miss the book club meeting so I decided not to read it and now I get a second chance! Again, early in, but so far soon good!

Recently finished: I was able to wrap up An Abundance of Katherines by John Green late last week. It’s not my favorite Green by any means, but it was still enjoyable. I’ll have a review up next week so I can go into some more detail on it.
I sped through What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins. The letters were all really short so I’d binge-read five or so at a time and got through the book really fast. I’ll have a review for this one up next week, also. I’m catching up on reviews!

A few reviews as well! I posted about my feelings on Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs last Thursday. I love this author and I gave him a glowing review. He always makes me laugh. I gave him 5 out of 5 Stars.
I also wrote about The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro earlier this week. I’ve liked Ishiguro in the past, but this book was not for me. Please check out my review for more details, but still read Never Let Me Go! I gave the book 2 out of 5 stars.

Reading Next: I’m trying to keep ahead of my book club picks so I can lazily pick up my own books. The next one I’ll grab will be Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. I’m worried the audiobook I have is abridged because it’s only 2 hours and 30 minutes long! If you’ve read this before, does that seem right? It looks like the book is about 200 pages so I’m surprised it would be so short.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!