Halsey Street

Halsey Street

Book - 2017
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Penelope Grand has scrapped her failed career as an artist in Pittsburgh and moved back to Brooklyn to keep an eye on her ailing father. She's accepted that her future won't be what she'd dreamed, but now, as gentrification has completely reshaped her old neighborhood, even her past is unrecognizable. Old haunts have been razed, and wealthy white strangers have replaced every familiar face in Bed-Stuy. Even her mother, Mirella, has abandoned the family to reclaim her roots in the Dominican Republic. That took courage. It's also unforgivable. When Penelope moves into the attic apartment of the affluent Harpers, she thinks she's found a semblance of family, and maybe even love. But her world is upended again when she receives a postcard from Mirella asking for reconciliation. As old wounds are reopened, and secrets revealed, a journey across an ocean of sacrifice and self-discovery begins.
Publisher: New York :, Little A,, [2017].
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781503941175
1503941175
Branch Call Number: FIC COST
Characteristics: 320 pages ; 22 cm

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STPL_JessH Sep 13, 2019

I really enjoyed Halsey Street. In fact, I couldn't put it down and read the bulk of it in one sitting. It reminds me of Brit Bennett's The Mothers in the search for love and recognition.

I love the way Coster writes. There are moments of poetry that add to the scene instead of interrupting the narrative. Coster manages to find the balance between economical writing that does not weigh down the text and lovely lilting descriptions that allow the reader to feel as though they're in the room. There's no attempt to dress up Penelope's reality or to paint some happiness that doesn't exist. I love that Penelope doesn't really know what to do with Jon's happiness, and his steadiness. This is a portrait of a life she hasn't seen before and I really respect the way Coster develops the relationship between them including some important moments of boundary-setting. Jon speaks truth to Penelope in a way that she couldn't have heard it before.

I was so surprised by the underlying compassion in this book. It's a type of compassion fraught with pain and longing, but it's there, quietly, trying to survive. Coster has a gift and I cannot wait to read what she writes next.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Feb 28, 2019

I really liked this one. Solid story arc, intriguing primary characters, vivid (and complicated) settings, straightforward writing. My one complaint is that some of the secondary characters, particularly the gentrifying hipsters, skewed stereotypical. And given that a major theme of the book is coming to terms with the gentrification of a beloved neighborhood, more complexity in this area would have made for a stronger story.

KatieD_KCMO Sep 18, 2018

I was drawn to this book because the plot is driven by the issue of gentrification and the collateral damage it does to communities of color. For me though, the character development and writing fell flat and distracted me. This book could have benefited from some stronger editing and a more concise storyline. It's trying to center on too many things: gentrification, mother-daughter relationships, caring for ailing parents, looking for meaningful work/career, struggling artists, etc. It was all over the place. I'd say give this a shot, but if you try it and feel the same way I did, try Inheritance from Mother by Minae Mizumura. I've yet to find another novel that addresses gentrification the way Halsey Street does, but when I do, I'll add it here.

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