Zuri Benitez can't stand the new rich boys who just moved in across the street from her family's apartment in the Brooklyn hood of Bushwick. Darius and Ainsley Darcy don't fit in. They're rich, they're strangers, and Zuri assumes they're looking down on all the people who've actually grown up in Bushwick. People like her generous mother, always-tired-from-working-two-jobs father, and loud sisters. But then her older sister Janae starts really liking Ainsley. And Darius turns out to be nicer and more down-to-earth than Zuri had thought. Misunderstandings and misjudgments abound, of course, before Zuri, Darius, and several other characters can learn to see themselves and others more clearly. Then everything can end on a happy, hopeful note.
The Benitez family is Haitian-Dominican, and the Darcy brothers are Black. Most of the rest of the characters in this are also either Black or Latinx, and I really loved learning about a mix of cultures so different from my own. Zoboi tackles issues like gentrification, racism, and sexism in subtle, gentle ways that don't try to take over the story or make it preachy, but nonetheless provide food for thought. I never felt like this story had an agenda (I really don't like stories with obvious agendas), but instead, it gave me some new perspectives to mull over while also telling a really fun, lively version of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of strong language sprinkled throughout. I could definitely have done without that, but it wasn't enough to make me stop reading. I was really excited to read a teen love story that has more to it than "wow, that person is hot," and in which no one gets in bed with anyone else! In fact, the Benitez girls are all known for not sleeping around, and the Darcy boys are described as real gentlemen several times. All so refreshing for YA books these days!
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-16 for the bad language, and for some kissing scenes and talk of guys staring at girls' butts, things like that. A story is related of a boy having taken sexy photos of a teen girl and shared them. Nothing dirty, but also too mature for younger teens. Underage drinking occurs. There are also scenes with people practicing a non-Christian religion, and talk of spirits guiding people.
This is my 27th book read for #TheUnreadShelfProject2021.