This was on my want-to-read list from the time it first came out, but it was Maureen at By Singing Light posting about it that finally pushed me into actually reading it.
Pride by Ibi Zoboi. Balzer + Bray/Harper Collins, 2018.
“It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when rich people move into the hood, where it’s a little bit broken and a little bit forgotten, the first thing they want to do is clean it up… What those rich people don’t always know is that broken and forgotten neighborhoods were first build out of love.”
Zuri Benitez is proud of her Afro-Latinix heritage and her neighborhood, the Bushwick area of Brooklyn. Her family is just getting ready to welcome the oldest sister, Janae, the heart of the family, back from her first year at Syracuse University. But as she’s arriving, a new family is moving in across the street. They’ve remodeled an old house into a mini-mansion – something Zuri distrusts to start with. When she and Janae meet the two handsome brothers, Ainsley and Darius, that are moving in, both sisters have instant reactions. Janae is attracted to Ainsley, while Zuri feels a deep distrust, especially for Darius, whose skin may be as dark as hers, but whose manners and dress just don’t fit in.
This says on the cover that it’s a Pride and Prejudice remix, and it is. The major characters are all here, including younger sisters Marisol and twins Layla and Kayla, as well as Zuri’s best friend and a romantic rival. Mrs. Benitez is notably a much more sympathetic character than Mrs. Bennett in the original, doing her best with a family of seven in a tiny apartment, and famous for feeding the neighborhood with her excellent cooking. And just as Vodoun played an important role in Zoboi’s American Street, an apartment neighbor, Madrina, follows the traditional religion and leads ceremonies in the basement, a spiritual practice that is key to Zuri’s character arc.
But while this starts with Pride and Prejudice, Pride goes beyond to look at the roles of class and money and the social forces in modern America, backed by strong and sympathetic characters. I am in awe of Zoboi’s skill following the plot and the basic characters from the original so closely, while making them authentic characters of today, with very modern concerns and deep love for the neighborhood and the people who live there. Sometimes, there are books that work so well that I just don’t feel like I’m able to do them justice with my reviews, and this was one of those cases. Just go read it if you haven’t, and share your thoughts if you have.