Brown Girl, Brownstones Summary

Brown Girl, Brownstones Summary

Brown Girl, Brownstones is a novel split into 4 smaller books and told from the perspective of the the titular character Selina Boyce.

Book 1: A Long Day and a Long Night

In Book 1, we are introduced to our protagonist, Selina, a 10 year old immigrant from Barbados who lives in a rental brownstone in Brooklyn with her family. Her father, Deighton, and her mother, Silla, are often at odds with one another due to Deighton's rash and unfaithful behavior. However, tensions reach a tipping point when Deighton finds out that he has inherited a plot of land in Barbados. Deighton and Silla have opposing opinions on how this windfall should be used: Deighton wants to return to Barbados to build a mansion while Silla would much rather have Deighton sell the land and use the money to buy the brownstone they are currently living in. This leads on to the conflict that we see at the beginning of Book 2.

Book 2: Pastorale

At the beginning of Book 2, we are thrown into the argument between Deighton and Silla on how the inherited land should be used. Amidst this chaos, Selina imagines herself growing up. Later, she heads out to play with her friend Beryl, where she confides to Selina about her menstruation, an idea that Selina is disturbed by but is in reality fearful of.

Book 3: The War

This book begins with a conversation between Silla and a group of other women, which Silla vexes about her argument with Deighton about the land in Barbados. However, Selina eavesdrops and is caught. Silla threatens Selina and instructs her to not let Deighton on to her schemes. However, Selina remains doubtful of her mother and decides to let her father know about Silla's plans. This leads to a conflict between her and her sister Ina.

Feeling lost and ostracized by all her family members, Selina decides to confide in Miss Thomson. Miss Thomson reassures Selina, but decides to take matters into her own hands and confronts Silla about her plans. This turns out be in vain as it is revealed that Silla had already sold the land for 900 dollars by forging letters to Deighton's sister in Barbados and instructing her on the sale of the land. Seeing that her actions cannot be reversed, Deighton reacts in spite by spending all the proceeds from the sale on luxurious gifts.

Words of Deighton's actions spreads among the Barbadian community in Brooklyn and he is made a pariah. He then proceeds to work in a factory for a short period of time but loses an arm in an accident, and finds peace in a cult led by a certain Father Peace. This however, leads to calls for his deportation. It is later revealed in Book 3 that he drowns after falling off the boat on his way back to Barbados.

Book 4: Selina

Selina seems to be the only one who is distraught by her father's death, and this further drives the wedge between her and the rest of the Barbadian community. Deigning to follow her own dreams, Selina begins college and meets Clive, an artist ten years her senior.

During her time in college, Selina picks up dancing and joins her school's dance group. She also begins to date Clive in secret, and they bond over a shared pessimistic outlook on the world. Silla discovers their relationship and pleads with Selina not to pursue Clive, warning her of him. However, this advice falls on death ears and Selina plots to get a scholarship and take the money to run away with Clive. She is, however, distraught and disappointed when she finds out that Clive never intended to elope with her.

The novel ends on a melancholy note, with Selina considering her options and planning to drop out of school to return to Barbados.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.