"For a long time, my mother wasn't dead yet. Mine could have
been a more tragic story. My father could have given in to the bottle
or the needle or a woman and left my brother and me to care for
ourselves--or worse, in the care of New York City Children's Services,
where, my father said, there was seldom a happy ending. But this
didn't happen. I now know that what isn't tragic is the moment. It's
A first paragraph like that creates high expectations for the
rest of a book. Fortunately Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn
lives beautifully up to the promise of its beginning. It's a
narrative of family and friendship and growing up viewed from the
perspective of remembering. But the golden patina does not negate the
real and serious dangers faced by young, innocent girls.
August and best friends Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi are
inseperable. Angela is a dancer who takes lessons each week and
becomes inexplicably sad and withdrawn. Gigi is an actress, born when
her mother was little more than a child. Sylvia is the youngest child
of a well off family. When the other girls visit her they see how her
family looks down on them.
The girls' child years start running out. They're still
learning popular dances, playing jacks and double dutch jump rope,
running through the spray from fire hydrants, and chasing the ice
cream truck. But, at 12, their bodies are changing and strangers are
looking at them in a way they're not ready for.
"We pretended to believe we could unlock arms and walk the
streets alone. But we knew we were lying. There were men inside
darkened hallways, around street corners, behind draped windows,
waiting to grab us, feel us, unzip their pants to offer us a glimpse."
Another Brooklyn is like A Tree Grows In Brooklyn for another
generation. Both, vivid in time and place, look at the good, the bad,
and the ugly of coming of age as women through the forgiving patina of
memory. Both are very much worth reading.
On a personal note, few comfort foods can top a freshly cooked grilled
cheese sandwich--all crispy and buttery on the outside, gooey in the
middle. Especially if someone else is doing the grilling. Up to
UMaine during finals week a heavenly aroma wafted from the hall
outside the commuter lounge. CASE folks were serving up world class
sandwiches to sustain and encourage folks.
A great big shout out goes out to the CASE crew. They do so much to
enrich the student experience throughout the school year.
Sent from my iPod