August, the narrator of Another Brooklyn, is an anthropologist in her mid-thirties; she studies death rituals/observances in cultures across the world. When the book opens she’s back in Bushwick, where she grew up, clearing out her father’s apartment after his death. But the book is mostly about August’s childhood and her teen years, and particularly about her close friendship with three other girls, Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi. August remembers moving to Brooklyn from South Carolina with her dad and her brother in 1973, when she was eight and her brother was four; she remembers her mother, how she “started hearing voices from her dead brother Clyde” and how she “said women weren’t to be trusted.” She remembers “the weight of growing up Girl in Brooklyn” and how she and her friends shared secrets and laughter and pain. She remembers her own early solitude, how she watched Angela and Sylvia and Gigi doing Double Dutch before she was friends with them, how she watched the interactions between her dad and her brother and would “see their fluid connection, a something I was on the outside of.”

There’s darkness and difficulty in August’s story, and in her friends’ stories, and in their neighborhood’s stories—there’s mental illness and violence and poverty and drug use; August’s uncle is one of many who died in Vietnam, and many of those who came back are struggling: at one point August remembers how “the damage of the war staggered, strung-out and bleary-eyed along our block.” A downstairs neighbor is a sex worker who’s reunited with her kids, then parted from them again; a woman across the street had a son who died. But there are also moments of tenderness and connection and joy: kids opening hydrants along the street, or summertime parties that August went to with her friends and remembers like this: “At night, when the DJs plugged extension cords into the streetlights, the four of us followed the line of brown and white cords to the music in the park.” Or, when she was younger, trips to Coney Island with her father and brother, which August remembers like this: “On Saturdays, my father took us to Coney Island, the three of us riding the double L train to the F train to the last stop. My brother and I watched from the first car window as the Wonder Wheel came into view, then the long-closed Parachute ride, then the Cyclone, and finally, the ocean.”

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