In this short novel main character August looks back on her youth. Her father’s funeral and running into an old friend trigger the memories. August was born in Tennessee but moves to Brooklyn with her father and younger brother in the early seventies. In Brooklyn she meets four girls who become her best friends: Gigi, Angela and Sylvia. Together they discover how to grow up an Afro-American in an increasingly hostile, violent and women-unfriendly city. They need to be alert, to constantly remind themselves that their male counterparts see them as easy bait.
Whilst father and brother are drawn in by the Islam, August pays no attention to religion, she has her friends. They share each others secrets, they try and help each other growing up. Only one of them lives with both her parents, the others miss a mother, one way or the other. Woodson makes it clear the girls are haunted by sexual predators, their other problems are mentioned casually. In the end a boy friend causes their friendship to falter.
By having the main character tell her tale, we never get to know the other girls’ position . Reality comes to the reader through a subtle remark, a casual fact. The main character also takes along her feelings, her emotions. Another Brooklyn is not a factual novel, it is a sensitive and personal story.
Woodson’s novel shows the author knows what any young woman growing up has to face. In her novel she has made clear choices. We discover that August will go to college, we do not know how this came to be. Neither do we get a clear picture of her life in between the end of the friendship and the death of her father. Though I enjoyed reading the novel Woodson’s choice has left me feeling slightly that the novel is incomplete, still un-finished.