Author Ibi Zoboi Brings Young Love, Gentrification, and Being Black Enough to Light in the Book ‘Pride’

The romantic novel, “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen gets reimagined in this charismatic, funny, diverse retelling of the classic called “Pride” by Ibi Zoboi—a National Book Award finalist and author of “American Street”.  She proficiently balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification, and pairs it with young teenage love. Dive into the world of Bushwick, Brooklyn through the eyes of Zuri, who is a fiery Afro-Latina. If you’re a fan of YA and classic books reimagined with POC as main characters, then this is the book for you.

Ibizobi.net

“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.”

Summary

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. However, 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.

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.

Modern Day Gentrification

“Pride” tackles issues we are facing in current times like gentrification. This story is told in the first person and through the eyes of the main character. This gives the reader a first-hand experience of the effects of gentrification. Gentrification is the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste.

So, when the Darcy’s (a prominent black family) moves across the street to revamp the old crack house and turns it into a glorious mansion, Zuri Benitez isn’t impressed. She feels like them moving in changes everything—from the taxes going up to the home value rising. Not being used to change, Zuri instantly gets defensive and believes the worst about her neighbors.

“We’re not gonna just throw away the past as if it meant nothing. See? That’s what happens to whole neighborhoods. We built something, it was messy, but we’re not gonna throw it away.”

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Am I Black Enough?

According to Jelani Cobb, a historian, and writer at the New Yorker, defining “blackness” is complicated because race is an invented category dating back to slavery. The category can encompass a range of identities and cultures.

Zuri wants nothing to do with Darius because he doesn’t belong in their hood. She judges his blackness from his wealth. Which brings the question, “Am I Black Enough?” In the African American community, some equate certain things to black culture, music, upbringing, etc. causing some to lose their “black card”.

So, what’s your definition of Blackness? It’s a conversation that needs to be discussed throughout the Black community. “Pride” shines a light on that topic and much more.

Romance

The romance in the novel is swoon-worthy. It plays on the classic enemy to lovers trope. Zuri and Darius start off as enemies in the beginning stages of the book and exchange witty dialogue with each other. Both characters are strong-headed, opinionated and quick to judge one another by preconceived notions. But throughout the book, a slow burn romance develops and grows into a steamy romance. There is also a love triangle in the novel that causes just enough tension and drama to keep you flipping to the end.

Pride vs Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” revolves around the importance of marrying for love, not for money or social prestige, despite the communal pressure to make a wealthy match. The book “Pride” uses the same tropes but adds diversity, a modern setting, and classicism. Darius attends a prestigious private school in Manhattan and Zuri attends a public school in Brooklyn. Darius lives in a luxurious mansion and his family has generational wealth, while Zuri’s family is from the inner city of Brooklyn. The book also showcases Afro Latino culture, H.B.C.U’S, and poetry. Zuri has aspirations to go to Howard University for college and takes a tour of the school in the novel.

This book is a fun and classic retelling that is also a quick educational read. If you want to read more from the author, Ibi Zoboi has a new book called “Punching the Airreleasing this year (2020). The book was also co-written with Yusef Salaam from the Exonerated 5.

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