cover image Halsey Street

Halsey Street

Naima Coster. Little A, $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5039-4117-5

In her perceptive, memorable debut, Coster reveals the personal toll that gentrification takes on one damaged Bed-Stuy family. Twenty-something art school dropout Penelope Grand has been living in Pittsburgh for several years and has no plans to return to her native Brooklyn. But after her ailing father, Ralph, takes a fall, she returns to help care for him. Ralph’s record store was once the crown jewel of the neighborhood’s black-owned businesses, with all the status that conferred; after business dwindled and he sold out to a trendy organic grocer, he has steadily declined, along with—in his estimation—the neighborhood itself. “It’s all just stuff to them,” he tells Penelope. “Stuff they think they deserve because they can afford it.” Penelope’s homecoming dredges up uncomfortable memories; as she negotiates the still-familiar streets, she attempts to define her place within her family, neighborhood, and artistic community, all of which comes to a head when her estranged mother invites her to the Dominican Republic. Penelope’s status as both an insider and an outsider in her childhood home affords Coster an acute perspective from which to consider the repercussions of gentrification, as well as a family’s legacy of self-destruction. [em](Jan.) [/em]