Halsey Street – Naima CosterHalsey Street – A modern-day story of family, loss, and renewal, Halsey Street captures the deeply human need to belong—not only to a place but to one another.
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.
An engrossing debut, Halsey Street shifts between the perspectives of these two captivating, troubled women. Mirella has one last chance to win back the heart of the daughter she’d lost long before leaving New York, and for Penelope, it’s time to break free of the hold of the past and start navigating her own life.
A quiet gut-punch of a debut…Absorbing and alive, the kind of novel that swallows you whole. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
This is the story of a family—which means it’s the story of imperfect and vulnerable creatures—failing at love no matter their efforts. In Halsey Street, Naima Coster shows us one young woman’s tangled efforts to return home and repair the intimacies we can hardly live without. It’s a poignant, moving book, written with deep empathy and sophistication. Ben Marcus, author of Leaving the Sea and The Flame Alphabet
In this lovely novel, Naima Coster captures, with depth and nuance, the yearnings, ambivalence, and insecurities of a woman on the brink of adulthood. In the process of healing old wounds, Penelope Grand must mend complex fractures in relationships with her estranged mother in the Dominican Republic and her father in Brooklyn. An exceptional debut that explores how to find meaning within the shifting emotions and tangled webs of connection. Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and Piece of the World
Naima Coster’s first novel is rich and flavorsome, a portrait of a Brooklyn neighborhood in decline and renewal, and of a young woman—a risk-taker, fierce and yet loving. First novels rarely come as skilled, touching, and real as Halsey Street. John Crowley, author of Ka and Little, Big
Coster’s absorbing and beautifully written novel Halsey Street haunts me still. Set in two cities I love, Pittsburgh and New York, it’s both lucidly familiar and emotionally unpredictable. It’s a novel that faces head-on the complicated ways women are split between their duty to their families and their personal passions. In this deeply profound and moving story, Penelope es tremenda! Angie Cruz, author of Soledad and Let It Rain Coffee
How does one gifted young woman find her life? Through a deep journey of mind, body, and spirit across cultures, classes, and city blocks. Coster’s Penelope rises and falls, flies and stumbles, and goes straight to the heart in this beauty of a debut. Get to Halsey Street as fast as you can. Stacey D’Erasmo, author of Wonderland
Halsey Street introduces Naima Coster as an important new voice—wise, elegant and utterly engaging. Her protagonist Penelope is a fierce yet tender heroine who must navigate modern-day Brooklyn, must learn to move between classes and countries. Coster captures the ache and longing of living life as an outsider, while also illuminating the force of history and family. A remarkable, heartbreaking debut. Rebecca Godfrey, author of The Torn Skirt and Under the Bridge
A poignant and absorbing Brooklyn elegy, told by a young woman lost in the no-man’s-land between gentrifier and gentrified. Johanna Lane, author of Black Lake
With this debut, Naima Coster has established herself as a major new talent of literary realism. A tale of what happens when your own past is rendered as unknowable as your future, this family story looks at all the different ways loss defines us. Brooklyn is under trial for Coster’s Grand family in a way any New Yorker can recognize, but Coster goes the additional mile to investigate the nuances of the gentrified and the gentrifiers. Race, ethnicity, and class are masterfully challenged in this narrative of self-discovery and the quest to preserve one’s heritage while honoring lifesaving transformation. A brilliant debut. Porochista Khakpour, author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects and The Last Illusion
Naima Coster is a native of Fort Greene, Brooklyn. She holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, an MA in English and creative writing from Fordham University, and a BA in English and African American studies from Yale. Her stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Guernica, Arts & Letters, Kweli, and the Rumpus. Coster is the recipient of numerous awards and a Pushcart Prize nomination. A former editor of CURA and a former mentor of Girls Write Now, Coster is also a proud alumna of Prep for Prep, the leadership development program in New York City aiding high-potential minority students in public, charter, and parochial schools. She currently teaches writing in North Carolina, where she lives with her family. Halsey Street is her first novel.
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