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A blazingly original debut novel about a group of friends and their immigrant families from Queens, New York—a tenderly observed, fiercely poetic love letter to a modern generation of brown girls.
If you really want to know, we are the color of 7-Eleven root beer. The color of sand at Rockaway Beach when it blisters the bottoms of our feet. Color of soil . . .
Welcome to Queens, where streets echo with languages from all over the globe, subways rumble above dollar stores, trees bloom and topple over sidewalks, and the funky scent of the Atlantic Ocean wafts in from Rockaway Beach. Within one of New York City’s most vibrant and eclectic boroughs, young women of color like Nadira, Gabby, Naz, Trish, Angelique, and countless others, attempt to reconcile their immigrant backgrounds with the American culture in which they come of age. Here, they become friends for life—or so they vow.
Exuberant and wild, together they roam The City That Never Sleeps, sing Mariah Carey at the tops of their lungs, yearn for crushes who pay them no mind—and break the hearts of those who do—all while trying to heed their mothers’ commands to be obedient daughters. But as they age, their paths diverge and rifts form between them, as some choose to remain on familiar streets, while others find themselves ascending in the world, beckoned by existences foreign and seemingly at odds with their humble roots.
A blazingly original debut novel told by a chorus of unforgettable voices, Brown Girls illustrates a collective portrait of childhood, adulthood, and beyond, and is a striking exploration of female friendship, a powerful depiction of women of color attempting to forge their place in the world today. For even as the conflicting desires of ambition and loyalty, freedom and commitment, adventure and stability risk dividing them, it is to one another—and to Queens—that the girls ultimately return.
“An acute study of those tender moments of becoming. This is an ode to girlhood, inheritance, and the good trouble the body yields.”—Raven Leilani, bestselling author of Luster
“A poetic story for anyone who has longed to leave home, only to find that home resides within you.”—Sandra Cisneros, bestselling author of The House on Mango Street
“An irresistible chorus of remembrances, a lyrical ode to brown girlhood. It is also an ode to Queens, and the multiethnic first-person plural sounds like the borough itself, rich and varied and glorious. I absolutely loved this book.”—Emma Straub, bestselling author of All Adults Here
“A masterful triumph. Every page captures moments of wonder and hard truths about brown girls coming of age, grappling with conflicting influences, loss, gender, sexuality, and being second-generation immigrants in America.”—Nicole Dennis-Benn, bestselling author of Patsy
“Wonderfully New York–centric in both voice and attitude, Brown Girls flows like a late night FM-radio dedication to the crew, the block, and the mission. This book’s a gift—a smooth subway seat on a crowded Queens local bound to everywhere and offered to those people, places, and dreams that forever keep and feed us.”—Paul Beatty, Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Sellout
“Brown Girls is alive with the complicated yet vast love of immigrant mothers, American daughters, and childhood friends. I treasure this book’s artistic daring, its pathos, and its marvelous playfulness.”—Megha Majumdar, bestselling author of A Burning
“Inventive, sharply funny, and exceptionally beautiful. A portrait of growing up as a woman of color in America, the voices of these girls ring out on every page, lyrical and fierce and unforgettable.” —Elissa Schappell, author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls
“Seething with raw, exuberant life, Brown Girls is an epic told in the register of the yearning, vivid experiences of its characters. It’s hard to think of another book with more spirit or a keener eye.” —Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun
“A poetic celebration of the working-class, immigrant families in Queens. Brown Girls is a novel about womanhood, leaving and finding home, and female friendship that pays tribute to the beauty, complexity, and depth of family, self, and identity. The chorus of voices is innovative and captivating. I can’t wait for this book to be in the world and for y’all to read it!” —Michelle Malonzo, bookseller at Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ
“A beautiful love letter to friendship, Queens, New York, and what it means to navigate this world as a brown girl. It will make you think of your childhood friends, and after reading you’ll find yourself wanting to reach out to those friends you miss so much.” —Rosa Hernandez, bookseller at Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA
“What an achievement Brown Girls is. It is unforgettable and announces the arrival of a major new talent.” —Cody Morrison, bookseller Square Books, Oxford, MS