Pride and Prejudice in the ‘hood

“It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when rich people move into the hood, where it’s a little bit broken and a little bit forgotten, the first thing they want to do is clean it up.”

Pride is a fantastic modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a flirtation of characters who are richer, and those who are poorer. It takes Zuri Benitez (modern, black woman reshaping of Elizabeth Bennett), who lives in the hood and comes from a poorer, louder, loving family.

Neighbors move into her neighborhood that has been gentrifying or heading in that direction, and these neighbors have two sons (retelling of Darcy Fitzgerald and Mr. Bennett). This family is rich, black, and more “genteel” than the Benitez family and many of the neighborhood’s surrounding families.

Of course, the new boys are seen as arrogant and wanting to be “white,” both bad things in Zuri’s eyes. What’s worse, her older sister is falling for the oldest son…and he’s falling for her in return.

What I loved about this book was it took the prejudice, even among those similar racially (on the surface) and exposed them as ridiculous, as any prejudice is. Assumptions are made about the two sides, and until one gets to know the other, these assumptions are rarely based on fact.

Pride was a fun read that followed the general plotline of Pride and Prejudice, which was perfectly fine with me as the latter is one of my favorite novels.

What I loved were the individual characters, who more or less mirrored their Pride and Prejudice counterparts, but with their own flavor. Zuri was Elizabeth, more intellectual than her sisters and more open-minded (in her own way), but with a new zest and air that Elizabeth Bennett didn’t have (which is fine, as she fits into the narrative of her world). Zuri has pride for herself, her culture, her neighborhood, and in a way, her family. She realizes her neighborhood and family have issues, but she retains her sense of pride in them and her sense of communion with those around her. I admired this trait, as I think it serves to continue cultural pride and growth.

I thought the writing was well done, especially in relation to dialogue and characterization. I loved how Zoboi wove in original Pride and Prejudice characters in ways that I both expected and didn’t, and made sure each one has their own personality that I could understand and predict. I’ll be looking out for books by Zoboi.

Favorite quotes from Pride:

“Never let the streets know when you’re upset. Don’t let any strangers see you cry. Hold your head up and look as if you’re ready to destroy the world if you have to.” 

“We have more space and less time. And the love we had for our whole neighborhood now only fits into this wood-frame house in the middle of a quiet block. We don’t know the people who live across the street or on either side of us.” 

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