In Amina Gautier's Brooklyn, some kids make it and some kids
don't, but not in simple ways or for stereotypical reasons.
Gautier's stories explore the lives of young African Americans who
might all be classified as "at-risk," yet who encounter different
opportunities and dangers in their particular neighborhoods and
schools and who see life through the lens of different family
Gautier's focus is on quiet daily moments, even in extraordinary
lives; her characters do not stand as emblems of a subculture but
live and breathe as people. In "The Ease of Living," the young teen
Jason is sent down south to spend the summer with his grandfather
after witnessing the double murder of his two best friends, and he
is not happy about it. A season of sneaking into as many movies as
possible on one ticket or dunking girls at the pool promises to
turn into a summer of shower chairs and the smell of Ben-Gay in the
unimaginably backwoods town of Tallahassee. In "Pan Is Dead," two
half-siblings watch as the heroin-addicted father of the older one
works his way back into their mother's life; in "Dance for Me," a
girl on scholarship at a posh Manhattan school teaches white girls
to dance in the bathroom in order to be invited to a party.
As teenagers in complicated circumstances, each of Gautier's
characters is pushed in many directions. To succeed may entail
unforgiveable compromises, and to follow their desires may lead to
catastrophe. Yet within these stories they exist and can be seen as
they are, in the moment of choosing.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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