CBR10 Bingo – Cover Art
Ibi Zoboi’s Pride is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in Brooklyn. The best adaptations take a familiar story and use it to explore contemporary issues. Once we identify each new character with it’s P&P counterpart, we understand where they fit in the story and then we can move on to the meat of it. We know class is going to be a part of the conflict, and since this is a modernization, we know getting the 5 Benitez sisters married off isn’t a motivation.
Zuri Benitez is going to start her senior year of high school in the Fall, and her eldest sister, Janae, is coming home after her 1st year of college. The Benitez family lives in an apartment in the predominantly Afro-Caribbean Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. The house across the street was abandoned, but has been bought and renovated by a wealthy family, the Darcys. Zuri is afraid of change, what it means for her and what it means for her neighborhood. The Darcys represent everything Zuri fears and she dislikes them on sight. The eldest brother, Ainsley, and Janae lock eyes and fall immediately in like. Zuri doesn’t know it yet, but her sister’s dreams started changing as soon as she left for college.
I pop my eyes out at her to let her know that this whole situation is not okay, but she’s smiling from here to Syracuse. She’s way too happy to be up in this house with some rich boy she just met. Janae is past thirsty at this point, she’s the Sahara Desert.
Zoboi makes some important changes: education, not marriage is the concern for the future, the Benitez parents love each other and neither is foolish, and even when they don’t like each other, girls have each other’s backs. Like the Bennett sisters, the Benitez are concerned with their future financial stability. Rather than a looming genteel poverty if they don’t marry well before their father dies, Zuri and her sisters must contend with the myriad barriers erected by race and poverty in America.
There are fewer human antagonists. The barriers to Zuri and Darius’ relationship are their own selves. Zuri struggles with change, the good and bad of it – growing up, expanding beyond the Hood, loss, moving out, gentrification. I love the way Zoboi gradually expands Zuri’s sense of belonging beyond her street, and the amount of space Zuri is willing to occupy in the world. Zuri is growing up and moving outwards. If she gets a chance she will make her voice heard.
We know that Zuri is the hard protective shell around her softer, younger sisters (and her own heart). The Darcy brothers look like a threat to her family so she cuts them no slack at all. Zoboi shows us her softer side through some truly wonderful poetry. We can see that Darius is the hard shell around his more outgoing brother and his trusting younger sister. We never really see his interior life though. We only see him from Zuri’s perspective. I think this is the only true weakness of this adaptation. There is no amazing letter that starts off angry and stiff and ends up soft and vulnerable. We get some conversations, but it doesn’t feel quite the same. There are some romantic things that he does that may be the letter moment for you.
Minor quibbles aside, I enjoyed this so much. It was a lovely read. It transported me to a neighborhood and community I have never experienced.