Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Another Brooklyn is a photographic kind of novel, one that creates vivid images and snapshots to show how fleeting time can be and how images might not tell the whole story. It is about the friendship between four girls in 1970s Brooklyn, told from the perspective of one of them, August, and what they saw of each other’s difficulties and differences.
The novel’s non chronological structure and writing style invoke a sense of memory, so the act of remembering feels built into the form and narrative. As with most non-chronological novels, details are hinted out and fleshed out later, but in this short novel, this feels less like holding back information and more akin to the act of telling an old memory, adding in detail that wasn’t meant to come yet. The sketches given of each of the girls’ lives leave plenty of questions, but also show how four girls can come together to be friends and yet that friendship cannot overcome the troubles of the world and the city in which they live.
The title and the narrator dream of ‘another Brooklyn,’ a place beyond the life that has been given, but the novel is also tied to location, to the journeys characters have made to live in Brooklyn, and how Brooklyn seemed like theirs but also not. Another Brooklyn is a welcome change from the often long and male-dominated books set in New York that have proliferated, portraying female friendship and how friendship can be tied to place and time.