Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades


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.

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“A bold, lyrical work I want to compare to a grown-up The House on Mango Street, but whose visceral descriptions and choral “we” demand to stand on their own.

Told in vignettes, the choral “we” speaks for a group of young women, mainly 2nd generation immigrant women of color, from Queens; its success is in not assuming to speak for anyone beyond this core and in pillorying numerous clichés with tongue-in-cheek humor.

It is biting and original, an acerbic wit on full display.”


We live in the dregs of Queens, New York, where airplanes fly so low that we are certain they will crush us…

This remarkable story brings you deep into the lives of a group of friends—young women of color growing up in Queens, New York City’s most vibrant and eclectic borough. Here, streets echo with languages from all over the globe, subways rumble above dollar stores, trees bloom and topple across sidewalks, and the briny scent of the ocean wafts from Rockaway Beach. Here, girls like Nadira, Gabby, Naz, Trish, Angelique, and many others, attempt to reconcile their immigrant backgrounds with the American culture they come of age in. Here, they become friends for life—or so they vow.

Exuberant and wild, they sing Mariah Carey at the tops of their lungs and roam the streets of The City That Never Sleeps, pine for crushes who pay them no mind—and break the hearts of those who do—all the while trying to heed their mothers’ commands to be dutiful daughters, obedient young women. As they age, however, their paths diverge and rifts form between them, as some choose to remain on familiar streets, while others find themselves ascending in the world, drawn to the allure of other skylines, careers, and lovers, beckoned by existences foreign and seemingly at odds with their humble roots.

In musical, evocative prose, Brown Girls illustrates a collective portrait of childhood, motherhood, and beyond, and is an unflinching exploration of race, class, and marginalization in America. It is an account of the forces that bind friends to one another, their families, and communities, and is a powerful depiction of women of color attempting to forge their place in the world. For even as the dueling forces of ambition and loyalty, freedom and marriage, reinvention and stability threaten to divide them, it is to each other—and to Queens—that the girls ultimately return.

Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades