Another Brooklyn : a novel

by Jacqueline Woodson

Paper Book, 2016

Status

Checked out
Due Aug 19, 2021

Collection

Publication

New York : Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2016]

Description

Fiction. Literature. HTML: A Finalist for the 2016 National Book Award New York Times Bestseller A SeattleTimes pick for Summer Reading Roundup 2017 The acclaimed New York Times bestselling and National Book Award�??winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming delivers her first adult novel in twenty years. Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything�??until it wasn't. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant�??a part of a future that belonged to them. But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion. Like Louise Meriwether's Daddy Was a Number Runner and Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood�??the promise and peril of growing up�??and exquisitely renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four yo… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member lauralkeet
How does she do it? In less than 200 pages, Jacqueline Wilson has painted an evocative portrait of a young woman coming of age in Bushwick in the 1970s. The setting, the people, and the emotions were all so vivid; I felt transported back to that place and time. At the center of the novel is August,
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born in Tennessee and now living with her father and brother in Brooklyn.
Somehow, my brother and I grew up motherless yet halfway whole. My brother had the faith my father brought him to, and for a long time, I had Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi, the four of us sharing the weight of growing up "Girl" in Brooklyn, as though it was a bag of stones we passed among ourselves saying, "Here. Help me carry this."

For a long time, August watches Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi from her window, but one day she is accepted into their social circle. Every one of them wants to give the impression of having it all together, when in reality each girl is faced with family issues, economic issues, or both. They journey together into their teens, their sexuality emerging and presenting still more issues to grapple with. They support one another, and they work against one another, too -- again, Woodson brilliantly captures the power of female friendship. Her writing is sublime. Just read this book and let it wash over you.
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LibraryThing member kidzdoc
Jacqueline Woodson's latest novel, which was chosen as a finalist for this year's National Book Award for Fiction, is narrated by August, an African American woman of 35 who returns to Brooklyn after the death of her father. She revisits her teenage years in the mid 1970s spent there in the company
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of her father, younger brother, and especially the three girlfriends who meant as much to her as anyone else during that time. Each girl had a unique background, and brought a different aspect to their shared relationship: August came from rural Tennessee, Gigi from South Carolina, and Sylvia from Martinique, with Angela, the most streetwise of the four, being the only one who was born in Brooklyn. Their families were also quite different, although each one struggled to survive in the increasingly dangerous streets of that troubled borough, which were plagued by heroin addicts, prostitutes, and gangs, as white residents fled their neighborhoods and rented their homes to anyone who could pay a deposit and one month's rent.

The girls' experiences match the changes and increasing danger in their neighborhood, as their developing bodies and sexuality put them at greater risk by predatory boys and men who wish to claim their innocence and derail their promising futures.

The novel consists of short paragraphs, narrated in the first person by August, with evocative descriptions of the city and the music of the time that somewhat reminded me of my own considerably less troubled childhood living in nearby Jersey City in the early 1970s, particularly when August mentions her Close 'N Play record player, which I received as a birthday present in 1969.

Another Brooklyn is another solid effort by Woodson, whose previous young adult novel Brown Girl Dreaming won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2014. Although I wasn't moved as much by her latest work, it was still a memorable read, which I would highly recommend to everyone.
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LibraryThing member RealLifeReading
Jacqueline Woodson is best known for her memoir in verse, Brown Girl Dreaming, which won the 2014 National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor Award, an NAACP Image Award, and the Sibert Honor Award.

Her latest book, Another Brooklyn, isn’t in verse but it somehow reads like
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it is.

In other words it is lyrical and it is stunning.

Running into an old friend on a train triggers memories, both good and bad, for August, who is in Brooklyn to bury her father.

In 1973, aged eight, August, her four-year-old brother and her father move from Tennessee to Brooklyn, New York, after her mother starts hearing the voice of her dead brother Clyde, who was killed in the Vietnam War. In a new city, a new apartment, August and her brother are friendless, unsure of themselves. But she soon falls into a group of three girls: “Sylvia, Angela, Gigi, August. We were four girls together, amazingly beautiful and terrifyingly alone.”

And they navigate their world of growing up as girls, trying to find their place in this world, in 1970s Brooklyn, with absent mothers, drugs, uncertainty, and changing times.

Another Brooklyn is a collection of memories and a wonderful freeflow of vignettes past and present.

I may not have grown up in 1970s Brooklyn but a story like this, told with such grace and power, with brevity and confidence, just carries the reader in, fills her with emotions, and doesn’t let go.
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LibraryThing member cdyankeefan
What can I say about this? To say it’s engrossing, riveting,fascinating and amazing just doesn’t seem enough. August returns to Brooklyn for her fathers funeral A chance glimpse at a former friend transports August back to the Brooklyn of her childhood and everything that cam with it: poverty,
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under, a desire to fit in and young love. So much of this resonated with me and brought me back to the Brooklyn of my childhood. Unde4 200 pages it’s a quick read but oh so good.
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LibraryThing member VioletBramble
This is the story of August and her best friends; Sylvia, Gigi and Angela, growing up on the mean streets of 1970s Bushwick, Brooklyn. Each of the girls has family problems that they keep hidden from each other- for the most part. But when these four girls hang out together they know that they have
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each other's back and they know they are fierce and beautiful, and that all the boys want them - even if they're not sure how to feel about that just yet. Their friendship acts as a shield against the bad in the world, even if it's only for a little while. As they get older life starts to pull them apart - career dreams, religion, family tragedy and teen pregnancy.
Woodson always makes me feel nostalgic for my own childhood and teen years in 1970s NYC. This book is an ode to girlhood, to hanging out with your best friends, to roaming the neighborhood and the parks because it was still mostly safe, discovering boys, and the music that made the 70s.
Recommended.
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LibraryThing member nbmars
This moving, lyrical novel tells the story of August, who moved to Brooklyn from Tennessee in 1973 at age 8 with her 4-year-old brother and their father. Woodson employs dream-like free verse to conjure up an era punctuated by conflicts in class, race, and gender, PTSD from the Vietnam War,
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depression, suicide, and black empowerment. Yet at no time does one get the impression that the author is packing her book with “issues” to be relevant. Rather, it seems like a strikingly real portrait, albeit filtered through the gauzy veil of poetic language. The beauty of the words softens the harshness of their meaning, and the brevity of the stanzas lends a snapshot effect to the prose. It is as if we are looking at a picture album of times gone by.

In the story, August, now in her thirties, has returned to Brooklyn for her father’s funeral, and is thinking back on her coming of age in Brooklyn, when she made a group of close friends and confronted the truths about her life and theirs she had been reluctant to face.

She tells us how she made friends with Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi:

“. . . as we stood half circle in the bright school yard, we saw the lost and beautiful and hungry in each of us. We saw home.”

They grew up, reached puberty, and for a while they straddled the two worlds of girlhood and being adults:

“When we weren’t practicing walking in Gigi’s mother’s shoes, we were little girls in Mary Janes and lace-up sneakers.”

But when they turned thirteen, August recalled:

"It seemed wherever we were, there were hands and tongues. There were sloe-eyes and licked lips. Wherever our new breasts and lengthening thighs moved."

When the girls were alone, they folded their arms across their breasts, “praying for invisibility.”

The changes in the girls unfolded against a backdrop of changes in Brooklyn, with more and more white people leaving, and mistrust between the races increasing.

How well Woodson captures the general mood of the times, recalling that “[t]hat year, every song was telling some part of our story.” This was of course a sentiment shared by all the races, one that still persists and helps makes each generation so attached to the music of its own time. And it suggests one of the themes running through the story: "At some point, all of this, everything and everyone, became memory."

Evaluation: No one familiar with the work of Jacqueline Woodson will be surprised at the virtuosity of her writing and her storytelling technique. For anyone who wants to know what it was like in the 1970’s, and how much has both changed and not changed in tensions between races and genders, this short book is an excellent introduction. As a poignant story of the families we have and the families we create, it is just lovely. And as a reconciliation of the past, and remembrance, it offers insight and understanding. As August muses, “I know now that what is tragic isn’t the moment. It is the memory.”
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LibraryThing member voracious
This is a short but beautifully written novel about a pre-teen girl and her younger brother growing up in the 1970's in Brooklyn, after leaving their mentally ill mother behind in Tennessee. As a newcomer to the inner city, August and her brother are overwhelmed by their new life and surroundings.
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With their father as their sole provider, they are frequently left alone at home and yearn to play with the kids out in the street. They also desperately miss their mother and long for the day she comes to meet them in Brooklyn. As August acclimates at school and is accepted into a clique of other girls, she gradually comes to see how each girls' situation is similar and different from her family's life. The story moves between the past, present, and future, recalling the experience of growing up motherless but also loved in a neighborhood where people move in and out on a daily basis.

I loved the descriptive language and emotions evoked by this story. For such a tiny novel, the author is able to wrench strong emotions with very few words. Lovely and heartbreaking and very deserving of the many awards it will most certainly win.
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LibraryThing member kfbalcos
This book reminded a little of The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
LibraryThing member Carmenere
I loved this beautifully written story of four pre-teen girls, August, Sylvia, Angela and Gigi coming of age in the mid '70's. The story is told from the vantage point of August. When her mother has mental health issues, August and her brother are uprooted from their Tennessee farm by their father
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and move to Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn is not an easy place to grow up. Drugs, murder and prostitution affect the girls on a daily basis. Their home lives are not at all ideal and even their friendship suffers from betrayal. The story follows them to adulthood and reveals the path that each as taken.
I especially liked the references made to songs of the 70's, Rock the Boat, Minnie Riperton and Al Green, they all added to the authenticity of the era.
Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member indygo88
A lyrical short novel, about a young teenage girl coming of age after moving with her father & brother from Tennessee to Brooklyn, NY.

The beauty of this book is the way in which Woodson allows the unspoken words to do most of the talking. It's a story of forgotten memories and of new memories.
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While I was not as blown away by this book as many have been, it does become richer after allowing it to settle in my mind for a while.
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LibraryThing member Dreesie
This novel follows August after her father moves she and her brother from rural Tennessee to Brooklyn, where he grew up. Unused to the city, they stare down from their windows. Later, she makes 3 great friends, and they spend their tween and young teen years as 4 inseperable black girls. Despite
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their different backgrounds (parental status, origin, attention at home) and their different dreams, they stick together.

Decades later, August runs into Sylvia in the subway. The chance meeting brings all the memories of what happened to them (and other young poor-ish black girls in Brooklyn) as they came into their mid-teens.
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LibraryThing member Perednia
"We opened our mouths and let the stories that had burned nearly to ash in our bellies finally live outside of us."

In Another Brooklyn, YA author and poet Jackie Woodson has written a novel of memories, a narrative with poetic sensibilities, a story of fighting to belong to a brother, a group of
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three other girls, a father, and a mother who lost her grip on the world when her own brother died fighting in Vietnam.

We learn early on that the grown narrator still loves her brother, even though they live separate lives, separate realities. Riding the subway, August sees one of those three girls who were once as close as sisters to her. She strides off the subway a stop early, even though that once close-girl, recognizable even in her womanhood, starts to greet August.

"Where would we be now if we had known there was a melody to our madness?"

This is the story of what happened to the girls. They cope with becoming young women even as they navigate a Brooklyn filled with heroin-addled Vietnam vets, dirty old men who would pay a quarter to look up their dresses and a prostitute with two young children who lives in the apartment below that shared by August, her brother and father.

"For God so loved the world, their father would say, he gave his only begotten son. But what about the daughters, I wondered. What did God do with his daughters?"

The girls each have dreams, although not every one will see hers come true. And here are boys, boys who want to be men, boys who are enchanted by them, boys who make them want to sing and dance and perhaps become women. August and her brother, when they first move to Brooklyn from a failing Tennessee farm, watch the other three girls saunter down the street like they own the world. When school starts, she is adopted by the group.

"What did you see in me? I'd ask years later. Who did you see standing there? You looked lost, Gigi whispered. Lost and beautiful. And hungry, Angela added. You looked so hungry."

As they grow and change, as their families let them down or build them up, the girls store memories of what they are living. Those memories, and the clouded ones August brought to Brooklyn with her, that eventually clear as she grows, form the core of this book.

"Everywhere we looked, we saw the people trying to dream themselves out. As though there was someplace other than this place. As though there was another Brooklyn."

This is the first adult work Woodson has published in years. For adult readers, it would fit in well with her last book, the remarkable poetical memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming. But even without that earlier, award-winning book, Another Brooklyn paints a portrait of moments in time that shape the woman its narrator has become.
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LibraryThing member GailNyoka
Jacqueline Woodson is a brilliant writer. This is a story that explores the bonds and heartbreak of family; the love, limits and pain of friendship; and how a girl grows into womanhood.
LibraryThing member csoki637
A coming-of-age story set in 1970s Brooklyn, pieced together from memories that read like poetry. With short, lyrical prose Jacqueline Woodson captures the essence of August's formative years: the longing of days spent staring out the window, the intimacy of her group of female friends, relentless
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male violence in public and private, dreams of the future, dalliances with the Nation, deaths of mothers and friends.

quotes:

"We had blades inside our kneesocks and were growing our nails long. We were learning to walk the Brooklyn streets as though we had always belonged to them—our voices loud, our laughter even louder.
"But Brooklyn had longer nails and sharper blades. Any strung-out solider or ashy-kneed, hungry child could have told us this." (p. 61)

"Because Bushwick had once been a forest and we had been called ghetto girls even though we were beautiful and our arms were locked together and our T-shirts blazed our names and zodiac signs." (pp. 154–155)
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LibraryThing member porch_reader
A coming of age story set in Brooklyn in the 1970s. August moves to Brooklyn with her father and her brother. She misses her mother and is uncertain how to make her way in a new place. But she makes friends of the sort who create both the fore and ground of her life. This is their story as much as
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hers.

This book is written as a series of memories, and that is clear not only because we first meet an adult August who has returned to Brooklyn. Her memories are told as memories occur, with some crystal clear details popping through a haze of events and emotions that are no longer clear, but that are a part of August nonetheless.
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LibraryThing member froxgirl
Everyone with a connection has their own Brooklyn. The author's got a fictional version that competes handily with Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, set almost one hundred years ago. But poor Francie never had a posse like main character August's own. For a brief time, she, Gigi, Angela, and
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Sylvia "belonged to each other". Each had trouble in their home - who didn't as a 13 year old - but their closeness gave them the ability to withstand the torrents inside and outside their apartment and school walls. Each relationship with parents and siblings rings vibrantly true and is written in gorgeous flowing poetry, different in structure but just as moving in feel as her National Book Award winning Brown Girl Dreaming. The lines of YA and adult novels crisscross, nowhere more than this treasure that belongs on every woman's shelf.
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LibraryThing member gayla.bassham
Really, really beautifully written. I admit that I did not follow the plot super-closely, I just appreciated the evocative vignettes that make up the book. Well worth your time.
LibraryThing member EBT1002
This is a beautiful short novel of girls' coming of age, of grown up poor in the 1960s, of finding oneself and finding one's pride. After moving from Tennessee to Brooklyn with her father and younger brother, 8-year-old August befriends three other girls and learns about love, loyalty, ambition,
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sex, and the power of memory to mold our stories of ourselves. Lyrical and lovely, this confirms for me that I will read anything Jacqueline Woodson writes.
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LibraryThing member Gretchening
A beautiful, spare account of a young Black woman's girlhood in Brooklyn, Woodson's story skips ahead and behind much the way a memory does. Her story is an unflinching examination of sexism, class ,religion, family, place, and race, feeling personal without being judgmental or emblematic.
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Woodson's masterful prose slices right to the heart of her character's story, and her light touch allows each character space to feel real without investing dense amounts of prose. This book is a small treasure of a life, encapsulating the heart of Brooklyn's culture without resorting to sentimentality.
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LibraryThing member novelcommentary
When August returns to Brooklyn to be with her father in his last days, the memory of growing up there is presented in beautiful glimpses of how three girls depended on each other to survive. "Somehow, my brother and I grew up motherless yet halfway whole. My brother had the faith my father brought
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him to, and for a long time, I had Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi, the four of us sharing the weight of growing up Girl in Brooklyn, as though it was a bag of stones we passed among ourselves saying, Here. Help me carry this." Their bonds were necessary but tenuous; each girl's story both fascinating and tragic.
"On a different planet, we could have been Lois Lane or Tarzan’s Jane or Mary Tyler Moore or Marlo Thomas. We could have thrown our hats up, twirled and smiled. We could have made it after all. We watched the shows. We knew the songs. We sang along when Mary was big-eyed and awed by Minneapolis. We dreamed with Marlo of someday hitting the big time. We took off with the Flying Nun. But we were young. And we were on earth, heading home to Brooklyn."
Woodson is a talented writer. In the afterward, she shares:
"A writer writes to hold on. I wanted the Bushwick of my childhood remembered on the page—so I created four girls who were fascinating and foreign to me, stepping far outside of my own childhood. Then I sat them down in a neighborhood that was once as familiar to me as air."
Highly recommend this finalist for the 2016 National Book Award.
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LibraryThing member brangwinn
For those of us who have led a sheltered life in rural white communities, this book is a must read to discover what other lives look like. Following the lives of three friends in Brooklyn as they grow up surrounded by drugs, opportunities for sex, unequal educational opportunities and broken
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families, Woodson continues her lyrical style of prose to open the reader’s eyes to the hard realities of life for some.
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LibraryThing member Narshkite
This is a very brief book, as was Brown Girl Dreaming, but just as rich and lyrical and beautiful. Filled with pain and hope and triumph and failure and life. I came away understanding a little more about 1970's Bushwick. Not just the bad parts, which are well documented, and much of which I saw
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when I worked there for Literacy Volunteers in the 80's, but also the beautiful parts. The very few words about the neighbor who braided her hair, whose son had died in Vietnam and who committed herself to the most patriotic form of grief and outreach touched me deep. My lord this woman can write!
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LibraryThing member St.CroixSue
A story of friendship and coming of age in Brooklyn in the 1970’s. Told from the point of view of August, who experiences the wonder of friendship, the danger of the dark side of Brooklyn, and the melancholy of loss. Beautifully written and narrated.
LibraryThing member Romonko
This book made the 2016 National Book Award longlist for 2016. It's not a long book, but Ms. Woodson packs a lot into the 96 pages or so. It's about growing up as a young black girl in 1970's Brooklyn. August and her three friends Sylvia, Gigi, and Angela walk together around the streets of
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Brooklyn; together always and forever they think. The girls thought that they were invicicible, beautiful and could conquer all, but underneath that childhood veneer there is another Brooklyn - a seedy underworld of drugs, prostitution, starvation and want. It was very easy to get lost inside Ms. Woodson 1970's world. She transports you body and soul back to her time and place. This is a coming-of-age novel like none other.
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LibraryThing member lit_chick
August, an Ivy League-educated anthropologist, reminisces about her coming-of-age years in Brooklyn in the 1970s. She, her father, and her brother had left Tennessee and moved to New York. There, she met her girls: Gigi, Angela, and Sylvia – and their friendship was everything – until it
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wasn't. Inseparable, they ambled their Brooklyn streets, believing they were talented, beautiful, brilliant – that the future belonged to them. But just beneath the surface, Brooklyn was another city, too: of drugs, prostitution, gangs, and violence -- , a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

Another Brooklyn is a poignant coming-of-age story, reminding us of the joy and the hope in growing up, and of the friendships that united us – but also of the peril. August speaks of historical and cultural references, which I connected with on a personal level from my own adolescent years: the Biafran War, and the heartbreaking children of Biafra; The Flying Nun; the Close ‘N Play record players. Recommended.
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Awards

National Book Award (Finalist — Fiction — 2016)
Dublin Literary Award (Longlist — 2018)
Lambda Literary Award (Finalist — 2017)
Audie Award (Finalist — 2017)
LA Times Book Prize (Finalist — 2016)

Language

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