Honest chat. I’ve never read Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. Did I lose my writing and reading credentials? Do I stand to continue my bookworm status?
I’ve survived over forty years of not reading the story nor watching a film adaptation while thriving on pop-cultural osmosis. In other words, I feigned knowledge of the stories in bits and pieces, and that’s fine because a sweet and savory retelling of Austen’s tale sprinkled with Oshun’s love presented itself to semi-virgin eyes.
Zuri Benitez lives with her parents and four sisters, (Janae, Marisol, Layla, and Kayla) in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, NYC. She adores her family and finds pride in their love and support. She’s Haitian-Dominican and proud of her roots. She’s a homegirl and proud. She’s a smart girl and proud.
Let’s say pride is indeed a vice and, perhaps, a virtue in her life.
When two boys move across the street after gentrification makes living in the working-class neighborhood easier, she finds that her class prejudices may create a bind to discovering new friends and experiences.
1. Representation. She’s a working-class girl with dreams, aspirations, and goals, born in a Haitian-Dominican NYC family. Hello! Orisha and Oshun love finds itself in an Austen retelling. Yes! Freshness abounds.
2. A Strong Female Protagonist. She’s smart, goal-oriented, and strong-willed. While she can come off as judgemental, she’s written to receive a bit of what she kicks via friends and family.
3. Good Writing. Zoboi illustrates clear pictures of Bushwick, and even if you’ve never visited, you swear you ventured there. Crisp nuances permeate the pages as you read. She’s straight to the point and matter of fact in issues involving class, race, and love among teens.
4. Interesting Characters. Though they are semi-based on established characters, new dimensions add themselves when topics mentioned above come to play.
5. Quick Pacing. No dragging. Concise. You move along Zuri’s journey without hesitation or eye-roll inducing purple prose.
6. No Need for Prior Knowledge of the Source Material. Even though it’s a retelling, one necessarily does not need to know of Austen’s original work as the story could stand on its own.
7. The Cover. Not only the dust jacket, but the book’s inside cover beautifies the book. I did not remove the jacket once. I wanted people to see what I read.
None really. I dug the story. So, why didn’t I give it a 5? I tend to not overuse my 5s. But, c’mon, 4.5’s close, right?
Maybe I’ll check out a P&P film. If I do, it’s the Colin Firth version. Definitely.
Photo courtesy of EW.com