In comparison to our last retelling of The Odyssey, I am much more familiar with the original version of Pride and Prejudice. It was one of the first classic literature novels I read- and so I’ve always had a soft spot for it. Elizabeth’s character has remained more relatable to me than many other classic novel characters- she’s independent, passionate, and not willing to settle in her romantic life. Since I’m so attached to the original Jane Austen version, I was both nervous and excited to read my first retelling of the novel. Luckily for me, I fell in love almost immediately with Ibi Zoboi’s take on Elizabeth and Darcy.
What are your favorite quotes or moments from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? Book or movie version!
Zoboi doesn’t waste any time – Zuri (Elizabeth) and Darius (Darcy) meet in the very first chapter! The themes of social class and economic differences from the original novel are also apparent from the first chapter. With Zoboi writing her characters as Black (with Zuri being Haitian-Dominican), there is also the added component of racial identity. I think that allowing the characters to have a racial and cultural identity adds so much value to the story as a whole. This is also a classic of british literature being rewritten as a young adult novel- introducing a whole new generation of readers to Pride and Prejudice.
These first chapters made me realize that Zoboi has made this not just a love story-but also a coming of age journey for Zuri. Zuri struggles with balancing her dreams of attending college with her resistance to change. Something I also found really interesting about Zuri’s character was how much she loves her neighborhood exactly how it is- but at the same time dreams of being the one to improve it:
“Sometimes love is not enough to keep a community together. There needs to be something more tangible, like fair housing, opportunities, and access to resources.
My younger sister, who is a self-proclaimed finance whiz, says it best: Love is abstract. Money is not.”
Can any of you relate to this passage?
As far as the romance side of this story, Janae and Ainsley’s connection is much more of a love at first sight connection than Zuri and Darius. Zuri struggles with feeling like she’s losing limited quality time with her sister as Janae falls for Ainsley. Zuri brings her struggles to Madrina, who earns her living by communicating with ancestral spirits. The primary spirit or deity presence is Ochún. Here’s some links if you would like to learn more about Ochún:
Finally, we meet a rival for Zuri’s affection- Warren. Chapter Eight ends with Zuri agreeing to hang out with Warren.