One of the questions Jacqueline Woodson fields a lot about her latest book, “Another Brooklyn,” is whether or not it is autobiographical.
Are you the main character August, the anthropologist who remembers the close bond she shared with three other girls in a series of vignettes?
“The most autobiographical thing is Bushwick, which is the neighborhood where I grew up,” Woodson said during a telephone interview from Mississippi, where she was attending a book festival.
”Bushwick is completely true,” she said. “Like so much of New York City, it’s changing and people are ‘discovering it.’ I really wanted to put on the page that it was exciting before other people decided it was cool. It’s been called a slum, a ghetto and talked about in all these negative ways from outside. I really wanted to show it as it really was — this thriving place for people — warts and all.”
The world is changing for four girlhood friends — August, Sylvia, Angela and GiGi. Will they reach their dreams or will life shatter them? In a series of unexpected events one year, their lives — and relationship — change forever.
Woodson, author of the highly praised “Brown Girl Dreaming,” returns to adult fiction after two decades in “Another Brooklyn,” a compelling coming-of-age story set in the 1970s that tells of friendships, dreams and loss.
Woodson will discuss and read from her latest on Sept. 3 at the AJC Decatur Book Festival.
Some of the situations, also, are slightly autobiographical. She knew of young girls who got pregnant when they should have been dreaming of college or jobs. And she witnesses the impact of drugs and returning emotionally wounded vets on the neighborhood. She had an uncle who was a member of the Nation of Islam.
“I had this big question in my mind why so many adult women do not have female friends,” she said. “It’s always been a big question in my head, ‘How can you not have your girls?’ Until death do you part, you need your girls. How can a woman grow up and be alone in the world? What kind of shattering would have to happen that you no longer have that tight bond?”
During the years between adult novels, Woodson has not been idle. She’s written between 20 and 25 books for children and young adults.
“I was writing, I was just not interested in writing from the adult perspective,” Woodson said. “I was writing to fill in this huge gap in children’s literature of books that had children of color as protagonists, written by people of color. … I thought this was not OK. I wanted to give young people mirrors to see reflections of themselves in literature.”
Jacqueline Woodson will discuss “Another Brooklyn” at 11:15 a.m. Sept. 3 at Decatur Presbyterian Church, 205 Sycamore St.
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