Pride is a YA novel written by Ibi Zoboi. I was excited about this book because as the title suggests, this is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice variants, in all their delightful forms, are one of my major weaknesses, and I was interested to see Zoboi’s take on the literary classic.
Zuri Benitez loves her Bushwick neighborhood, and isn’t particularly impressed with the changes. She and her sisters have been watching the transformation of the building across the street with interest, and as the story begins, the Darcy family moves in. Zuri’s sister Janae hits it off with Ainsley Darcy, while Zuri clashes with Darius Darcy.
The plot of this book follows its source material fairly closely, and part of what made the reading experience so enjoyable was seeing how a story set two hundred years ago in England translated to 21st century United States. Much is the same- Zuri is close to her older sister and embarrassed by her younger sisters, although she is fiercely protective of all of them. I especially enjoyed Zoboi’s treatment of the “Wickham” character; it translated well into modern sensibilities. I don’t think it is too much of a spoiler to point out that the book does not end with Zuri and Darius getting married. That’s simply not the same priority for a young woman in modern America as it would have been for Lizzie Bennet.
Austen’s classic offered commentary on social class, and Zoboi does as well. A big component of the story is gentrification and how it is affecting Bushwick. Much of the neighborhood is impressed by the large house that the Darcy family has renovated, but Zuri has reservations. She worries that the Darcys’ arrival will herald changes that will transform her neighborhood into something unrecognizable. She’s aware that her neighborhood isn’t glamorous, but she’s proud of where she lives. There’s one line that I found especially poignant; I’ll paraphrase, but the sentiment was that Zuri remembered when she was younger, she remembered way people would look at her mother with five small children, and assume that they were on welfare (they weren’t, not that it matters). She hated the way that her family was judged without knowing them, so it is somewhat ironic that she judges Darius based on what she perceives, even though she doesn’t have all the facts. But then again, that’s kind of the point of the story.
I would absolutely recommend Pride to just about everyone. This book will appeal to readers of realistic YA fiction, and it will appeal to Austen fans… and it will especially appeal to those who enjoy both. Zuri is a delightful protagonist, and fans of P&P will enjoy spotting all of the parallels. I’m pleased to have discovered Zoboi, and I’m looking forward to reading more from her in the future.