Brown Girls

Random. Jan. 2022. 224p. ISBN 9780593243428. $24. F
DEBUT In a poor, ethnically mixed neighborhood in “the dregs of Queens”—bisected by the “Boulevard of Death,” which one must cross to access schools, playgrounds, and libraries—brown girls hang together, sing and dance, and defend one another when necessary. At school, teachers can’t tell them apart; at the mall, they are watched with suspicion; at home, they often share space with recent immigrants who may or may not be family. Eventually, they reach puberty, crush on boys, and discover the social and economic differences between white and brown. Their paths diverge in high school, and they see each other less. Some go to college, others get jobs, and the divide widens as they settle into their careers. They find themselves in the company of white people more often and sometimes date or marry white people, but at parties and company events they are often mistaken for “the help.” Some have children and try to prepare the next generation for something beyond what they knew. Some are able to travel to “the motherland,” seeking themselves and coming back wiser and more confident. In trouble, they always return to their brown friends. The eponymous brown girls of Andreades’s debut novel are all the girls in the world who are not white, and the author uses the collective “we” to tell the tale as a group experience.
VERDICT Highly recommended.
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