Heat Factor: Kisses only
Character Chemistry: More believable as antagonists than as teenagers in love
Plot: Enemies to lovers plus coming of age plus gentrification
Overall: I felt like I was a million years old while reading this book
Our narrator, Zuri Benitez, is super sassy. And as a sassy teenager, she uses slang which I guess is hip and authentic to her time and place, but I am really not the one to tell you that because sometimes I felt like I was reading a foreign language.
With that said, her describing Darius Darcy as having “stank face” is PERFECTION.
In case you haven’t gathered based on the character names, Pride is another entry in the romance subgenre of Pride and Prejudice retellings. Zoboi really makes the class distinction work here by setting the action in rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Zuri is Bushwick born and bred; Darius’ family bought the run-down house across the street and fixed it up – it’s one more step in the neighborhood changing irrevocably. As property values rise, Zuri and her family worry about being priced out of their apartment. It absolutely makes sense that Darius would come across as snobbish, having moved from the Upper East Side to the “hood.”
As an exploration of the intersections of race, class, and cultural identity (Zuri’s parents are Dominican and Haitian, and her landlady is a Yoruba priestess), this book is pretty stellar. As an enemies to lovers romance, it leaves a bit to be desired, unfortunately. Zuri is a great character but I’m not exactly sure when she became interested in Darius, or why her feelings changed. This Darcy does not give me butterflies, and I don’t see him giving Zuri butterflies either.
Furthermore, the Wickham subplot didn’t work. I wish that authors writing P&P remixes would just cut him out more often, because the threat he poses to the family is usually underdeveloped or nonsensical. In this case – yes, it’s bad that he brought a barely teenage girl to a party and gave her some booze. Clearly, he’s a bit skeezy; one could even make the argument that he’s a sexual predator. But it’s not an existential threat to her reputation or the future happiness of the rest of her family. There is some talk about reputation here – specifically, the reputations of the Benitez sisters, and how protective their Dominican father is. But in the context of American teenage life it felt a bit off. (Maybe there’s some cultural stuff going on here that I am not picking up on.)
Pride has some great moments. Read it for the poetry. Read it for the view into the life of a teenager as she comes into her own. Read it to remind yourself that things you may see as distasteful or loud or trashy can also be beautiful or important. Just don’t read it for the love story, or you may find yourself disappointed.
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