Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Brown Girl, Brownstones depicts the coming-of-age of Selina Boyce. Narrated in the third person, the novel is divided into four books that cover the growth and maturation of Selina from the age of ten to eighteen. The first two books bring out the basic conflict in the novel. The Boyce family lives in a leased brownstone in Brooklyn. As young as she is, Selina is aware of the tension between her parents. She is devoted to her father, Deighton, an impractical dreamer who lacks the ambition and energy of other immigrants from the West Indies. He likes to bask in the sun and flit from one plan to another, without applying himself enough to achieve any goal. Silla, Selina’s mother, offers a stark contrast; she works two jobs and is determined to succeed in attaining the American Dream. Selina’s inability to reconcile the two conflicting forces in her life is further complicated by her own emerging sexuality and consciousness of race. Beryl, Suggie, and Miss Thompson are her confidantes during this period.

The underlying conflict deepens when Deighton Boyce inherits two acres of land in Barbados. Silla wants him to sell the land and use the cash as a down payment on their brownstone. Deighton refuses to consider the option and dreams of building a beautiful house on the land. As the United States enters World War II, Silla and her fellow countrymen find better-paying jobs and begin to acquire properties at a faster pace. Envious of her friends,...

(The entire section is 569 words.)