Book Review: Pride by Ibi Zoboi
“We’re not gonna just throw away the past as if it meant nothing. See? That’s what happens to whole neighborhoods. We built something, it was messy, but we’re not gonna throw it away.”
As I’ve said many times before, I’m a sucker for a classic retelling, especially a Jane Austen retelling. When I first heard about Pride by Ibi Zoboi, I was immediately intrigued. Pride is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The Benitez family lives in an old, crappy apartment in Bushwick, and when Zuri, the second oldest daughter, sees a family with two sons move into the brand new house across the street, she knows everything in their neighborhood is about to change. Darius Darcy and his older brother Ainsley seem so out of place in Zuri’s neighborhood. Zuri immediately hates Darius and does not want to interact with the two boys at all; however, Janae, the oldest sister, falls for Ainsley. I love that in the first 20 pages you already see how similar it is to Pride and Prejudice.
Zuri and Darius definitely have the Elizabeth Bennet-Darcy tension going on. When they first meet, Zuri has already made up her mind that even though Darius is extremely attractive, she wants nothing to do with him because he doesn’t belong in their hood. At the beginning of the book, Zuri catches Darius looking at her at times with feelings other than disdain or hatred. Little does she know, he is already falling for her! But Zuri isn’t interested yet because she has to get through the whole Wickham plotline. I love that the Wickham character is a guy from their neighborhood named Warren who goes to school with Darius. Let me go ahead and say, Warren is worse than Wickham. But I enjoyed the tension between Darius and Warren; it was fun and perfect.
The original Austen characters definitely have their moments in this retelling. Janae seems like the perfect modern version of Jane, while Marisol who is supposed to be Mary definitely got a bit more interesting personality in Pride. Kayla and Layla are twins and are just as boy-crazy as Kitty and Lydia are in the original. But I think my favorite reimagined character is Darius’s grandmother, Catherine Darcy. She captures the essence of Lady Catherine de Bourgh perfectly. I also love how she wanted Darius to be with Carrie and did not care one iota for Zuri. Zuri makes a fantastic Elizabeth, and Darius is a pretty perfect Darcy, albeit slightly more caring than the original. I was rooting all the way for those two crazy kids.
Part of why I love retellings is seeing how the author can reimagine the story into a modern setting. I loved that this was about an Afro-Latina girl and African-American boy in Brooklyn. Ibi Zoboi put such a fresh spin on this classic, and even though I have never been to Bushwick, I felt like I was there. I can’t wait to read more of Ibi Zoboi’s work because of how perfectly she integrated her own story with the original Austen version.
I have long been a fan of young adult fiction, even though I’m no longer in that age range and have not been for quite some time. This is one of the few YA retellings I’ve read, and I think I’ve just discovered a new favorite sub-genre. There are so many wonderful classic stories that could use a fresh take. If you know of any good recommendations, please send them my way.
I adored Pride and am glad it was my first read of 2019. I hope all my other books live up to this standard. I recommend this to anyone who loves Jane Austen obviously, but anyone who loves a good romance. This was a delightful read. I give it 4 stars.
What other young adult retellings do you recommend?