With warm, gleaming, gem-like sentences, Woodson captures the rare treasures of girlhood friendships, but the book contends with so much else, and the taut plot balloons with tension as August grows to understand a tragic realization about her family, one that will shape her for decades after ... Woodson writes lyrically about what it means to be a girl in America, and what it means to be black in America. Each sentence is taut with potential energy, but the story never bursts into tragic flames; it stays strong and subtle throughout.
...it is the personal encounters that form the gorgeous center of this intense, moving novel ... Woodson brings the reader so close to her young characters that you can smell the bubble gum on their breath and feel their lips as they brush against your ear. This is both the triumph and challenge of this powerfully insightful novel.
Woodson’s prose unspools like 'jazz improv,' riffing through a story world that is both exotic and familiar ... This is truly a rare, perfectly cut diamond of a book about the families we make and unmake, and the memories that not only shape us but somehow reveal what we can become and why.
...a short but complex story that arises from simmering grief. It lulls across the pages like a mournful whisper ... It’s as much as a compliment as a complaint to say that I wish the story were fuller. There’s enough material here for a much longer novel, and, though Woodson’s prose is always carefully constructed, she’s sometimes so elliptical that complicated issues are illuminated only obliquely ... But that’s the real attraction of this novel, which mixes wonder and grief so poignantly.
The many layers of Another Brooklyn have the poetic and vivid strength of Brown Girl Dreaming ... The novel reads like a series of prose poems, quick blocks of text separated by frequent spacing, which allows the reader to absorb the significance of each transition and have time to breathe before tackling August’s next memory ... Woodson uses her expertise at portraying the lives of children to explore the power of memory, death and friendship. Even when what was good turns sour, it can fuel the rest of our lives, in ways we never think to acknowledge.
...a gripping coming-of-age narrative about friendship and loss ... Woodson tells this story in short vignettes, each poetically written, nuanced with repetition and deeply steeped in emotion. There is a steady rhythm that beats beneath her words as the narrative unfolds.
...though Another Brooklyn is being billed as her first novel for adults in two decades, it will still speak most powerfully to younger readers. The book communicates a sense of longing and loneliness that will instantly resonate with teenagers of a certain introspective temperament ... Older readers may wish that more irony and complexity shaded these reminiscences. But the purpose of Ms. Woodson’s touching memorialization is to return you to that age when experience cuts deep.
While the setting of Another Brooklyn comes vividly to life as a snapshot of the past, the issues this book explores are as current as ever ... Written in Woodson’s trademark lyrical prose, the novel doesn’t politicize these issues, nor does it veer into the territory of commentary ... Another Brooklyn is a melancholy book, but also lovely.
The girls are fired up by their individual hopes and dreams, but also weighed down by family problems, poverty and expectations. Friendship is their salvation and support. Woodson is particularly good at describing their wonderful, growing camaraderie ... The novel successfully defies any sense of a traditional plot. There is a lot unsaid, a lot implied, which creates suspense and a curiosity, in particular, about what happened to the mother. This is, instead, a novel to be enjoyed for its visual and impressionistic prose style.
Its prose is so delicate, its structure so gauzy, that it feels as if the whole thing will disappear if you look directly at it. Which is not to say the book is insubstantial — only that its power lies in what it leaves unsaid. Describing it means either translating Woodson’s elegant, poetic elisions into prose, or leaving gaping holes in the narration ... an elegant fever dream of a book, one that will haunt you after you finish it.
The language in Another Brooklyn isn’t much more complex [than her YA books], and Woodson sticks to brief episodic scenes. But it’s a much more dynamic book, alert to the confluences of dramas that a teen absorbs all at once, from racism to sexual abuse to the loss of family members. For all the tough lessons she delivers, though, Woodson also writes with a consistent warmth and compassion.
...a lyrical testament to childhood, pulsating with emotions that often feel beyond language. Woodson has a genius for meeting readers exactly where they are, taking a hand and leading them through a fully realized world ... Woodson’s lyricism will fool you into thinking you are reading a poem, but there’s a story here as well, an arc that is as familiar as childhood itself and just as surprising and heartbreaking.
At its core it is a book about time, about memory … The novel’s central characters are not the only ones who suffer the tension between past and future: there is also August’s mother, who is driven mad by the memory of her dead brother; there is the neighbor Miss Dora, who expects her son home ‘in the by and by,’ though he died in battle; there are the white neighbors who flee the diversifying neighborhood, seemingly the only ones able to escape clean into the future. The book’s characters, with few exceptions, hunger for ‘another Brooklyn’ … Another Brooklyn is carried forward by its lyrical language and our strong connection with August. Readers will not devour it hoping to find out what happens next; rather, they will bask in its poetry and its poignant reminders that we are always living elsewhere, defined by all that has happened and the promise of what may very well never occur.
It is a measure of the power in Jacqueline Woodson’s prose that she can convey all the confused pain of adolescence in a mere 170 pages. Another Brooklyn is a book so careful and slender that its paragraphs read like stanzas of poetry. But its story reverberates like a gong ... Poetry, rather than character development or realism, drives Woodson’s narrative. Yet the social upheaval of those years comes through sharp as the smells of garbage off a city street ... Like Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the unflinching coming-of-age tale anchoring “Another Brooklyn” will resonate with teenagers, too.