Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades - review by Aida Amoako

Aida Amoako

The Kid’s Aren’t Alright

Brown Girls

By

Fourth Estate 224pp £12.99 order from our bookshop
 

A coming-of-age narrative set in author Daphne Palasi Andreades’s home borough of Queens, New York, Brown Girls spans the lives (and, for a moment, the afterlives) of a group of young women experiencing everything from college applications to the first trip ‘back’ to their motherlands.

A brisk read, Brown Girls can sometimes feel like an amalgamation of personal essays. Written from a collective viewpoint (the narrator is ‘we’ throughout), the novel is a rolling journey through a series of relatable experiences, such as being mistaken for another brown girl or coming to wonder, during an interracial relationship, whether there may be an insurmountable gap between oneself and one’s partner, despite the other person’s best efforts to empathise. Elsewhere, Andreades offers up reflections of a less common sort. In one instance, she highlights the shift in power between children and their immigrant parents when the former receive the kind of education their parents could not. She also reveals the collective narrator’s darker side when she writes, ‘we see the confusion clouding their eyes, we feel powerful. Reckless. Mean.’

Andreades’s prose style moves between the poetic and the more conventional, a delicate balance that is sometimes upset, powerful sentences being undermined

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