Book Review: Pride

Title: Pride

Author: Ibi Zoboi

Genres:  Contemporary

Pages: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Review Copy: Purchased

Availability: Available now

Summary: 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.

Review: I have been wanting a Black Love YA novel for a long while now so I was anxiously waiting to read Pride. I loved Ibi Zoboi’s debut novel American Street, so I expected her second novel, and a retelling of a classic novel at that, to be a thing of beauty. I was not wrong.

In full disclosure, I have never read Pride and Prejudice but I have seen the various movies & tv series, so I was familiar with the storyline. I was looking forward to Zoboi’s modern take on Austin’s classic story of love, class and family, especially as she used the timely issue of gentrification as the basis for the story. In fact, I feel Zoboi’s retelling is a perfect reflection of our modern age just as the original was reflection of Austin’s time period. Zoboi explores economic privilege from the African-American perspective which is a point of view rarely seen in novels, so that was refreshing to see. On the other hand, Zoboi sprinkles in how the feel of a neighborhood changes through gentrification and how the people who live there are negatively impacted by the change. This depiction felt true as gentrification doesn’t come in like a big wave, but with little changes bit by bit (such as the “complexion” of a neighborhood changes as I’m experiencing in the neighborhood surrounding my school). Having Zuri and Darius represent the two sides of gentrification creates a wonderful tension between the two that also mirrors the tension in Bushwick.

Pride is, at it’s core, a slow burning love story between Zuri and Darius who are clearly attracted to each other but have to get out of their own way in order to be together. They each have “pride” in themselves, their family, and their heritage, but are also prejudiced towards the other. Well, Zuri more than Darius, which is the point of story, specifically as Zuri eventually recognizes how her own lack of knowledge of life outside Bushwick has made her predjudiced towards Darius and his way of life. Zuri is very different from  a typical love story heroine, in that she is very straight forward and doesn’t hold back with her opinions. She can be very blunt but at the same time she is very tender with those she loves. Her relationship with her sister Janae, her father, and Madrina really gave the reader a window into Zuri’s heart. Zuri loves fiercely, especially Bushwick and the neighborhood where she grew up, and that often comes across in an brusque manner because she is protected that which she loves. The love she has for her family and her neighborhood is what really connected me with her and really enjoyed the journey she went on as she opened her mind, and opened her heart to Darius. Zuri’s growth is the beauty of Zoboi’s novel and what makes it feel real.

I really enjoyed this novel as I could see some of my students in Zuri and I could clearly see her as a mirror for many Afro-Latino girls. Pride is a much needed retelling that is truly a reflection of our times and completely Austin-like for our multicultural world.