November 06, 2018

#FirstPage with Pride by @ibizoboi

Welcome to this weeks First Page! Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

About the Book:

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.

About the Author: Ibi Zoboi was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and immigrated to the U.S. when she was four years old. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she was a recipient of the Norma Fox Mazer Award. Her award-winning and Pushcart-nominated writing has been published in Haiti Noir, the Caribbean Writer, The New York Times Book Review, the Horn Book Magazine, and The Rumpus, among others. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and three children. American Street is her first novel. Visit Ibi at
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Recommended Age: Young Adult
Genre: Retelling
Goodreads | Amazon


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. But it’s not just the junky stuff they’ll get rid of. People can be thrown away too, like last night’s trash left out on sidewalks or pushed to the edge of wherever all broken things go. What those rich people don’t always know is that broken and forgotten neighborhoods were first built out of love.
The new owners are moving into the mini-mansion across the street today. For the last few months, construction crews have been giving that abandoned house an Extreme Makeover: Bushwick Edition. They gutted and renovated the best thing on our block—that run-down, weed-infested, boarded-up house. Now it looks like something that belongs in the suburbs, with its wide double doors, sparkling windows, and tiny manicured lawn.
I pull back the curtains to greet my little corner of Bushwick and Jefferson Avenues, my very own way of stretching out my arms and yawning at the morning sun. This is where I see words swim in and around my neighborhood like dust from overhead train tracks. It’s all poetry. So I pull those words together and try to make sense of it all: my hood, my Brooklyn, my life, my world, and me in it.
Everything is how it’s supposed to be—except for that mini-mansion that’s like a newly polished pair of Jordans thrown in with a bunch of well-worn knockoffs.
Still, I remind myself that today is special, and I won’t let those new neighbors moving in mess that up. My big sister, Janae, is coming home from her first year of college, after finishing up a school internship, and she’ll be spending the rest of her summer break with me. Mama’s got a Welcome Back dinner all planned out. I fluff up my thick, kinky fro and throw on an old pair of jean shorts. They’re hand-me-downs from Janae, and they’re even tighter than they were last summer. Mama has joked that my curves have finally kicked in at seventeen—not that I was waiting for them. The Haitian-Dominican Benitez sisters already get enough attention on the street and at school as it is.
I slept late, but I can hear my younger sisters, Marisol, Layla, and Kayla, joking and laughing in the kitchen as they help Mama with the Welcome Back dinner—peeling batatas, seasoning the chicken, boiling the habichuelas, and soaking the dry salted fish for bacalao. Papi must be sleeping in because he worked overtime last night, and I know he wants to avoid all that noise. I get it, though.
Sometimes I would rather hear the sound of roaring buses, zooming cars, and blaring music over my sisters’ constant cackling—and Mama’s too. She’s the loudest of them all, and she can be the most embarrassing. Me, Papi, and Janae are the quiet ones in my family. All three of us would rather fold into each other on the couch, reading a book or watching a documentary, than gossip with Mama.
I’m about to head into the kitchen when I see it. Across the street, a blacked-out SUV pulls up in front of the new mini-mansion. They’re here! We all took bets on what these fools were going to look like—black and rich, or white and rich. One thing’s for sure: they had to be rich to move into that house. The passenger side door opens and—never one to lose a bet—I yell out at the top of my lungs, “The rich people are here!”
In no time, Marisol, who’s two years younger, is standing right beside me. Not because she’s the fastest, but because she has the most to lose with this bet. Me and my money-hungry sister, aka Money Love Mari, bet a whole twenty dollars that it’s a young white family moving in, because that’s what’s been happening all over Bushwick.
“Come on, white boy, come on,” Marisol says while clapping and pushing up her thick glasses. “Let’s make this money!”

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