Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Author: Ibi Zoboi
Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance
Topics: First Love, Gentrification
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Year: 2018
Format Read: Hardcover (Library)
My Rating: 3/5
This book has been getting a lot of buzz and deservedly so! I kept seeing it’s stunning cover and interior character illustrations on many “anticipated reads” lists for this year which piqued my interest but it was in reading the irresistible (for me anyways!) blurb promising a modern spin on Austen’s classic story that I knew I had to read it. So of course I was super happy when my library hold came in and let me tell you, I was not dissapointed. Pride It is a fun, original take on the beloved classic that I read in one sitting. If you are looking for a contemporary twist on a classic and thought provoking YA romance that tackles relevant topics around gentrification, class and race add this one to your TBR.
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.
I loved seeing Austen’s classic characters transformed into modern day Brooklyn teens. Elizabeth Bennet is now Zuri Benitez an Afro Latina teen with plenty of sass and Bushwick pride who is grappling with the gentrification of her neighborhood. When the Darcys a wealthy family remodels a home and moves across the street Zuri immediately takes a disliking to the arrogant Darius who embodies all the unwelcome changes to her neighborhood at the same time she can’t get him out of his head, and well, we know how that goes.
Zoboi takes some of Austen’s observations on gender and class structure and examines them through a contemporary lense that feels particularly relevant in today’s quickly changing neighborhoods of Brooklyn and the wider New York metropolitan area. Class structure is examined through the lense on gentrification rather than marriage with race playing a significant role as well. Zoboi manages to write one one hand a fairly faithful adaptation while at the sametime, creating a fresh and vivid setting in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick complete with the local bodega, street parties and building politics.
Readers who are familiar with the original Pride and Prejudice plot will appreciate references and easter eggs but for those who haven't read Pride and Prejudice or who are not familiar with the story will find that Pride stands well on its own as a coming of age and first love YA romance. While the storyline closely follows Austen’s original plot and won’t surprise readers familiar with the story with drastic deviations there are of course some adjustments and extras due to its contemporary setting and teenage protagonists. For example Zuri’s dreams of attending Howard University are a significant side story arc. There is also a shout out to the AKAs and a great tribute to fellow YA authors and Afro-Latina Elizabeth Acevedo through Zuri’s slam poetry both of which made me very happy.
Pride is both classical and radical at the same time and will appeal to a wide range of readers including fans of Austen retellings and fans of YA romance alike. It is a bold and beautiful book filled with Afro-Latina and Brooklyn pride. If you are looking for a great book to spark discussion among friends or simply a reader looking for a sweet and smart story to enjoy, Pride will more than fit the bill.
Read if you like:
Pride and Prejudice retellings
The squeee of first love