Brown Girls is a novel that is both universal and highly individual in its portrayal of the titular girls growing up over time. When the novel begins, the girls are children and, as it continues, we readers watch them grow up.
The girls are raised in a most specific location, a poor(er) immigrant neighborhood in Queens. These are the children of immigrants who came to America wanting more for their children. However, at the same time, they want their daughters to be “good.” This can, at times, mean compliant and the wish for them to stay close to home.
However, the world beckons, even if that world in their neighborhood, in Manhattan, and beyond can be quite unkind and worse. The author truly understands micro aggression; there teachers who don’t (bother to) know their students’ names and somehow think that they are interchangeable, store clerks who think girls with tiny purses can hide and steal large dresses in them and more difficult experiences of daily life.
The girls always face decisions-leave the neighborhood for a “better” school, go to college from at home or away, what boyfriends to have and more. Their choices are complex.
The unconscious (is it?) racism of the parents of white friends is well portrayed. So is the girls being asked to answer questions for their whole community, even when they cannot know the answers.
How will these girls grow up? Follow along as they move into their adult lives.
It is hard to believe that this is a first novel. It is so descriptively well written. The author writes in the “we” voice and does it well. Each short vignette builds the readers knowledge of the lives of these girls.
I most highly recommend this novel. I so deeply wished for the brown girls-women to have the futures that they want. And, yes, for the world they live in to be different and better.
From the Publisher
“[Daphne Palasi] Andreades’s descriptive writing is glorious, with a confidence one might expect from a veteran novelist . . . . While there is much that many brown girls will relate to—including experiences that feel stolen straight from my memories—Andreades succeeds in making the stories feel specific beyond a singular experience. . . . Readers become part of scenes where the fourth wall is not only broken but shattered. . . . With their breadth, depth and enormous richness, I found myself wanting to savor these raw stories on a large, overflowing plate.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[A] boisterous and infectious debut novel . . . Brown Girls reads like a rap song, like an anthem. . . . [It] holds worlds within its pages.”—TheGuardian
“Brown Girls achieves immediate liftoff. . . . Along the way a lot of subjects are turned over for examination. Like a DJ, the author picks up the needle and puts it back down in unexpected places. . . . Fearless.”—TheNew York Times