Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Retelling, Romance
Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding. But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.
I was ready to love this book but I thought it just fell a bit short for me. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy reading this remix of one of my favorite novels (of all time), but I couldn’t quite relate with the characters and I was left wanting a deeper connection to the story. However, I do think that Zoboi did an amazing job of illustrating Bushwick and Brooklyn, and the changing times in those neighbourhoods, and I especially appreciated how the Haitian-Dominican culture of the Benitez family was so well-woven into the storyline. It’s such an important part of Zuri Benitez’s character, and I loved that you could really feel how much pride she had in her roots and heritage. Seeing Bushwick through Zuri’s eyes brought out the vibrancy of her block and the people living in it. It’s been a while since I’ve read a re-telling of this classic, so it was exciting for me to see how Zoboi would shape the story and it was a delight to see how the various characters appeared in this remix.
I thought the writing was done well and my favorite parts to read were Zuri’s poetry! They’re such good poems and I think they spoke more to me as a reader than the full narrative. These poems made me wish that I was listening to the audiobook because they were so powerful and I can imagine how much more impactful it would be hearing them spoken out loud.
While Zuri’s voice was quite distinct and she embodied the “Liz” character well, I often found myself getting frustrated and annoyed at her prideful behaviour. Though I understand that her attitude came from a place of fear and anger at the changes going on around her, I couldn’t help thinking that it came across as petty and spiteful a lot of the time, and that her inability to look past her fear was what made her character growth quite slow. The frustration with her attitude was what made this read less enjoyable for me. One of my favorite characters was Madrina, who reminded me of Blix, who is one of my favorite characters from Matchmaking for Beginners. They had such matronly auras that soothed, comforted and left you feeling like everything was going to be okay. Zuri’s strong bond with Madrina was also a defining trait of her character and I think ultimately it’s because of her wisdom that Zuri’s character growth really pushed forward. I was also hoping to learn more about Darius’ character and for him to have more character growth but as it is, he really felt more like just a romantic bystander in Zuri’s story, and this also took a bit out of the romance between them.
Overall, this was an enjoyable coming-of-age romance that portrayed modern day issues of socioeconomic change, class and cultural identity very well. It had a believably sweet and satisfying ending to Zuri and Darius’ story. I’m glad that I read it and I’m looking forward to reading other books by Ibi Zoboi, especially American Street!
Have you read Pride or is it on your TBR? What’d you think of it?
What are some of your favourite Pride and Prejudice retellings?