Author: Ibi Zoboi
Published: September 18, 2018 by Balzer + Bray
Summary: Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.
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.
In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.
I love retellings of classics, and I would argue that this retelling is far superior to the original. Ibi presented at the NCTE convention, and she is absolutely brilliant. She talked about how she values the inclusion of the pantheon in literature and how she does so in her own texts. She also shared how different poems within Pride are retellings of classic poems. I love her work and will read anything she writes.
Love stories are tricky. They can get sappy quickly. This book is so much more than a love story. It interrogates themes related to economics, race, education, and gender.
“It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when rich people move into the hood, where it’s a little bit broken and a little bit forgotten, the first thing they want to do is clean it up. But it’s not just the junky stuff they’ll get rid of. People can be thrown away too, like last night’s trash left out on sidewalks or pushed to the edge of wherever all broken things go. What those rich people don’t always know is that broken and forgotten neighborhoods were first built out of love” (p. 1).
Teaching Idea: As a class, explore the impacts of gentrification and displacement. Using this knowledge develop your own form of political art (https://youtu.be/JMVd5k2a2IM) to make a statement.
“If Madrina’s basement is where the tamboras, los espíritus, and old ancestral memories live, the roof is where the wind chimes, dreams, and possibilities float with the stars, where Janae and I share our secrets and plan to travel all over the world, Haiti and the Dominican Republic being our first stop” (p. 23).
Teaching Idea: Pick a place in your life, and Use Zoboi’s writing as a mentor text to share that place with others (e.g. “If [place] is where_________, [another place] is where__________, where________.”
“Sometimes love is not enough to keep a community together. There needs to be something more tangible, like fair housing, opportunities, and access to resources” (p. 33).
Teaching Idea: As a class, discuss whether love is enough and whether tangible aspects must exist in order to keep a community together. Generate a concept or brain map that depicts tangible aspects that can impact communities.
Male/Female Gender Roles
I don’t need no knights in shining armor
Ain’t no horses in the hood
I killed chivalry myself with a pocketknife…” (p. 243).
Teaching idea: The teachers finds materials/advertisements that are gender-specific, and students rewrite the materials to remove gender from the text. Students evaluate how the meaning or the impact has changed.
“There is more to learn
about my old, old self, and black and brown girls like me
from hoods all over this country want to
take over the world,
but there’s something missing
in our history books the public schools give us” (p. 147).
Teaching idea: Consider the school curricula. Whose voices are honored? Whose are missing? Rewrite a course to be more inclusive.
“I have always thought of Bushwick as home, but in that moment, I realize that home is where the people I love are, wherever that is” (p. 270).
Teaching idea: Where is home? Create a visual depiction of your own home, and below it, write, “Home is…” How do our interpretations of home differ? What do they have in common?
Read This If You Loved: American Street by Ibi Zoboi, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson