Published by Balzer + Bray on September 18, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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 received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
As someone who loves all things Pride and Prejudice and all things YA, I was so excited to see that Ibi Zoboi was writing a YA P&P retelling set in a gentrified Brooklyn. However, Pride was much more than a cleverly adapted modern-day retelling of a classic romance: it’s a fantastic story in its own right.
Our main character, Zuri, was one of the strongest voices I’ve read in YA in a while. She’s headstrong and fiercely loyal to her family (both biological and found) and her neighborhood. Like Lizzy Bennet in the original story– like so many of us– Zuri is quick to judge. The story largely follows her having to unlearn preconceived notions about people, but she still manages to stay true to herself and her values in the process. She takes no sh*t, and I really admired that about her. I loved that Zuri was a poet, and many of her poems are included in the story.
Zuri and her sisters are all Afro-Latinx (half Haitian and half Dominican), and I was so happy to see this representation in a contemporary. The Benitez household, and the Benitezes themselves– are at the center of life on their block in Bushwick. They host the block parties, they provide the food, they know everyone and everyone’s business. They are warm and inviting to everyone, and they have no shortage of neighborhood pride. When the wealthy Darcys move into a “mini-mansion” on the block, they immediately throw off the balance of the neighborhood. Zuri is put off by the closed-off, stuck-up air about Darius Darcy.
Like I mentioned, Zoboi adapted Pride & Prejudice to this modern setting so brilliantly. I especially appreciated that the class difference between Zuri and Darius is still present and is still a source of contention between the two, but Zoboi brings even more nuance into the conversation by factoring in elements like race and gentrification, which were necessary to discuss in this story. The black representation is #ownvoices, and Zoboi brings up so many important points about the ways in which our skin color influences the way society sees us and therefore influences almost every part of our daily lives.
I especially loved the way our modern-day Wickham character (Warren) was portrayed. He’s just as despicable as in the source material, but in a context that feels all too familiar for a modern audience. One could argue that one of the flaws of Austen’s original work lies in how many of the minor characters are a bit one-dimensional, but Zoboi has created a well-rounded cast of characters here. I really appreciated that the Caroline character (Carrie) and all of Zuri’s sisters had more depth than originally appeared on the surface. Plus, we get to learn this as Zuri dismantles her own initial misconceptions about them, which made it even more awesome.
I loved the romance, as well! Darius seems cold on the surface, but once he opens himself up to Zuri and to his new neighborhood, it’s clear he’s just a total nerd under the surface. (A lot like Zuri herself!) Their romance develops through college visits, house parties, subway rides, and misunderstandings. It felt so true-to-life. Lots of teenage relationships are rife with miscommunication– I know mine were!– and seeing an imperfect (but still healthy) relationship in YA, where both parties have to put in the work to make the relationship last, was so refreshing.
All in all, whether you’re a fan of Austen’s original story or not, I’d highly recommend picking up Pride this fall! It’s a sweet story about growing up, falling in love, and learning to be a more compassionate, full person.
Have you read Pride? If so, let’s discuss! Do you have a favorite YA retelling of a classic?