Pride

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
Pride Book Poster Image
Sparkling multi-ethnic reimagining of "Pride and Prejudice."

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

What it's like to live in a vibrant neighborhood that's a mix of many cultures. How gentrification can both change (new shops and upscale housing) and threaten (apartments or homes becoming unaffordable, ethnic mix may disappear) a neighborhood.

Positive Messages

If you get to know people before making a judgment about them, you may be surprised.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Zuri and her older sister, Janae, are laser-focused on their futures and that means a great college (Janae is already at Syracuse) and careers dedicated to helping people who come from neighborhoods like their own. 

Violence

Two boys get in a brief fistfight.

Sex

A few kisses. Zuri learns that a boy has taken "sexy" photos of a girl and sent them to his friends.

 

Language

Characters occasionally use "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "damn."

Consumerism

Zuri is a fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me. Characters use Snapchat, and make mention of Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, and TV show A Different World.

 

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ibi Zoboi's Pride is a 21st century remix of the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice. The Bennett sisters from rural England are now the Haitian-Dominican Benitez sisters from a gentrifying section of Brooklyn. Zuri Benitez is 17 and not at all thrilled that the house across the street has been turned into a mini-mansion by the African American Darcy family. She likes the neighborhood as it is and is certain families like the Darcys will change everything. No way is she going to be friends with either of their handsome sons, Darius or Ainsley. But as in Austen's novel, Zuri, who comes from a proud working-class family, will find herself falling in love with the rich boy who's new to the neighborhood. Readers, both those who already love Austen's novel and those unfamiliar with it, should be captivated and delighted by this modern retelling that mixes romance with serious storylines about class and racial prejudice. Fans of Zoboi's American Street (a National Book Award finalist) should be forewarned that Pride is a very different read, with none of the violence, gritty storylines, and strong language present in her first novel.

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What's the story?

In PRIDE, the Bennet sisters of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice have become the five Haitian-Dominican Benitez sisters from the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, a neighborhood that's rapidly gentrifying. Zuri, a 17-year-old about-to-be high school senior, loves it just as it is with the loud music of block parties, neighbors shouting to one another through open windows, and kids turning on fire hydrants on hot summer days. When the rich African American Darcy family (with two handsome teen sons) buys the abandoned house across the street and turns it into a mini-mansion, she sees her beloved neighborhood slipping away, being transformed into a place she no longer recognizes, filled with upscale shops and even more mini-mansions. While it's not long before Zuri's older sister, Janae, and Ainsley, the oldest Darcy boy, become involved, Zuri and Darius Darcy get off to a bad start. She thinks he's rude and arrogant and he does nothing to change that first impression. But an unexpected encounter at an open-mic poetry night shows them they may have seriously misjudged each other and a romance begins. As in Austen's novel, the story plays out against a background of romantic misunderstandings and class prejudice, this time set in New York and Washington, D.C.  Teens who've read Austen's novel will recognize familiar characters given a new twist. The dashing but not-what-he-seems young officer has become a student from the projects on scholarship at an elite high school, the snobbish rich aunt is now the snobbish rich grandmother, and two younger sisters (one good and one not so good) have a set of 21st-century problems. 

Is it any good?

Even devoted Jane Austen fans will be charmed by this remix that blends modern-day problems of gentrification and class prejudice with a cast of relatable characters. Pride features only the major characters from Austen's novel and the plot has been simplified, but all that works in its favor, producing a story that should captivate even teens who recoil at the very idea of reading anything that resembles a "classic."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Pride explores the controversial topic of gentrification. How would you feel if your neighborhood suddenly began to change as wealthier people moved in and it no longer felt like home to you? Should cities preserve multi-ethnic neighborhoods like Bushwick, or can gentrification be good for neighborhoods?

  • Do you have a friend you didn't much like when you first met? What changed your mind about him or her? Why do you think you misjudged this person?

  • What "classic" novel have you read or studied in school that you'd like to see remixed with contemporary characters? What changes would you make to the location of the story or the plot?

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