American Street

American Street


Ibi Zoboi

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American Street: Princess’s Story Summary & Analysis

Princess says that Matant Jo gave her and Primadonna their names because she figured that being Americans with a house and an employed father would make the twins royalty. But that dream fell apart when Phillip was killed. Princess doesn’t remember much about this time, but she does recall by the time she and Donna were in middle school, Matant Jo had the newest car in the neighborhood. They were also the first family to have flat-screen TVs, laptops, and cellphones. There were always shady guys around, but the family did okay. Pri learned to fight in the second grade, but Chantal had it worse since she spoke Creole. As they got older, Donna told kids that she was French, and they beat her up for being tall and beautiful. Eventually, Chantal got a scholarship to a prep school, Donna got together with Dray, and Pri became “the brawn.” Now, they’re the Three Bees—and nobody messes with them.
Princess’s story gives more context as to why Matant Jo and her daughters behave the way they do. Though all of them are flawed, they’ve all shown tenacity in their efforts to overcome the tragedies and obstacles in their lives. As Pri sees it, Matant Jo had high hopes for her daughters at first, but things didn’t work out as planned. However, this doesn’t mean that Pri, Donna, and Chantal didn’t succeed on their own terms—they were able to endure incredibly difficult circumstances after Phillip was murdered, and they did so as the Three Bees. As a united trio, the sisters can work together to make up for one another’s weaknesses, which is what the novel suggests family members should always try to do. Meanwhile, it’s telling that Pri mentions shady men hanging around the house when she was younger. This implies that Matant Jo may have used illicit means to finance the family’s fancy new items.
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