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Ibi Zoboi Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

American Street (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Pride (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Picture Books

A Is for Ayiti (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Ibi Zoboi is American author of children’s and young adult books. Her award-winning works of writing have been published in the Caribbean Writer, Haiti Noir, the Horn Book Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, and The Rumpus. Zoboi is famously known as the author of American Street published by HarperCollins which was New York Times Notable Book of 2017 and a finalist in National Book Award.

Zoboi is a resident of Brooklyn where she lives with her husband Joseph Zoboi, a visual artist and educator and their three children.

American Street

American Street is mind-tingling, powerful and an evocative coming of age story- a perfect match for the fans of All American Boys, Bone Gap and Everything, Everything. In this fascinating debut, Ibi Zoboi puts into writing her own experiences as an immigrant from Haiti and creates a beautiful exploration of the American streets with voodoo culture and magical realism.

American Street introduces readers to a teenage main character, a Haitian immigrant named Fabiola Toussaint as she adjusts to her new life in the streets of Detroit.

After Immigrant and Customs Enforcement arrests her mother at the airport, Fabiola moves on to live alone without her mom for the first time in her life. Fortunately, she has cousins: the bombshell Donna, the tough girl Pri and the brainy Chantal. Since it’s a young adult novel there is bound to be some teen love, and Fabiola soon falls in love with the handsome Kasim, but the problem is that he is already friends with the abusive drug cartel Dray.

The plot is beautifully crafted to suit young adult readers. It features standard urban fare, cops profiling black men, BMW’s with chrome wheels, gangsters, crazy homeless folks, guns, haunting vacant lots and much more but the author steers all these into something new and unique.

Her main characters save Dray, and they all read real. Zoboi’s cast includes regular people trying to make a living and also supporting each other in a world that seems neither bad nor good to them as working class persons of color. The author has created the characters such that any reader would relate with them and through their daily struggles and experiences they grow and mature. For example, Fabiola transforms from the naïve girl into a courageous, kind-hearted and robust woman through her efforts to save her mother from the ICE facility and save Donna from Dray’s abuse.

If you enjoy reading the young adult book, you’ll appreciate the humor in this story which often lacks in grim urban tales. Much of the author’s humor comes from the main character’s Caribbean voice which makes her both Americanisms. The author also makes use of “cultural comedies of error” with assurance. For example, after Fabiola’s aunt falls ill, she must prepare Thanksgiving dinner on her own with cultural references or instructions. However, instead of cooking a stuffed turkey, she cooks a spicy Haitian food with turkey, appalling the cousins.

The best of the American Street story is the Voodoo magical realism. This is not your typical Hollywood voodoo with shrunken heads and zombies, but instead, the author features a pantheon of Loa that voodooist call on for strength.

There are several mentions of Haitian pantheon in the story, and the most notable one is Fabiola’s belief that the homeless, crazy crackhead “Bad Leg” is an embodiment of Loa Papa Legba who resides at the crossroads. All this is figurative, with the puzzles Fabiola is facing to her finding answers in Bad Leg’s schizophrenic ramblings.

However, the best part is that the author never reveals whether Bad Leg is indeed Legba or whether a smart girl’s subconscious is solving the puzzles in her life with her belief. While American Street story point of focus is via Fabiola, the readers also get to hear from other characters in italicized autobiographical episodes between chapters. These help the reader gain an understanding of the events that occur in the book.

Pride

Ibi Zoboi’s debut novel American Street tackled the themes of violence, immigration, and poverty in a withering Detroit. Her second book is a Pride and Prejudice remix that uses a lighter touch but manages to paint a picture of a rapidly changing neighborhood, Brooklyn’s Bushwick.

It’s claimed that when the rich folks moved into a neighborhood that’s a little broken and forgotten, the first thing they do it to have it cleaned up. This is what comes into Zuri Benitez’s mind when a wealthy black Darcy family moves into a mini-mansion across the alley.

Darcy’s arrival signifies change for the five Benitez sisters who live just across the street from Darcy’s home. This makes Benitez the family protector as she protects the family she loves. Zuri instantaneously dislikes Darcy’s second son Darius while her elder sister Jane falls in love with Darius elder brother Ainsley. Darius doesn’t approve other men in the hood, and even worse he seems to belittle Zuri’s family.

When Darcy’s plan a party, Mrs. Darcy weirdly accepts the food the Benitezes family bring to share. The party even takes a twisted turn when Zuri’s younger sisters drink some wine and start spilling some hardcore lines.

its moments like this the author capture the tingling social satires keeps Jane Austen’s book Pride and Prejudice alive and kicking two centuries after it was first published. Ibi Zoboi’s book turns the lens on the neighborhood where white hipsters and expensive organic food are fast encroaching Brooklyn community held firmly together by block parties.

There’s tension between the Benitezes and Darcys, and for the most of the book, Darius is a cipher and Zuri comes out clean that she’s not impressed by him or his cash. The story mainly focuses on Zuri’s relationship with her siblings, her friends, the folks in her neighborhood, Santeria priestess and Madrina, the wise woman. As Darius and Zuri circle each other, Zuri tries to complete her Howard University application while crafting some poems that take the reader deep into Brooklyn neighborhood and its people. Overall, Ibi Zoboi’s second book Pride is a love letter to a neighborhood and society in the paroxysm of change.

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