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Released: June 1st 2021
Published by Atria Books
“The Other Black Girl is a very well thought-out book, wrapping important social issues in a though-provoking and compelling plot.”~ Under the Covers
Nella Rogers is a young, Black, twenty-something woman working as an editorial assistant for a prestigious publishing company, Wagner Books. As the only person of color, Nella has had to deal with micro aggressions and ignorant remarks from her all-white co-workers. So, when Nella learns that another Black woman is being interviewed for an editorial assistant position, she’s hopeful that this new woman will be an ally and friend. The new woman, Hazel, is ultimately hired, but Nella quickly realizes that Hazel may not be what she seems. Especially when Nella starts receiving anonymous, hostile messages telling her to leave Wagner— immediately. Between the notes, and the fact that Nella starts to see her co-workers favoring Hazel over herself, Nella becomes suspicious of Hazel’s true intentions.
This book has a fascinating storyline. The plot is intricate, weaving in a handful of characters and topics in a way that overall comes together nicely at the end. If you liked the movie Get Out, you would like The Other Black Girl, as well. Similar to Get Out, racial identity is explored in detail, but in the context of the workplace. Also similar to get out, there is definitely a creepy- thriller aspect to this book that serves to emphasize it’s focus on racial identity.
But despite how much I loved the characters and storyline, there were two factors that lead me to rate this as a 3.5, rather than 4 or 4.5—the narration style and the treatment of supplemental characters at the end.
In addition to Nella and Hazel, there are a handful of supplemental characters. Some of these characters, specifically two called Diana and Shani, play more of a role than other supplemental characters based on the fact that the reader gets a glimpse into their points of view every other chapter. The overall effect of this is that the book is told a third-person narration for Nella and Diana’s perspective and a first-person narration for Shani’s perspective. The reason behind this switch between first- and third-person was lost on me, and took me out of the story a bit. Additionally, unlike some of the other supplemental characters whose role is clear within the story (i.e. Nella’s best friend or boyfriend), I was confused as to how Diana, Shani, and a few others fit into the overall story. Their roles became very clear, about 65% of the way through, but the fact that I found myself questioning their role for about half the book was a bit distracting for me.
Additionally, and without giving anything away, the end left me wanting a little more. Specifically, I wanted more of a resolution for the supplemental characters that were introduced. Nella’s best friend and boyfriend are what I would consider supplemental characters but their relationship with Nella is definitely an important aspect throughout the book. Because they were featured consistently in Nella’s story, I would have liked to have more finality with respect to these characters.
I want to clarify that these aspects that didn’t work for me are just that—aspects that I found to personally not work for me during my read and interpretation of the book. I want to emphasize that the storyline is really compelling and will definitely throw some surprises at you. I also think the social commentary is masterfully woven into the story and is an aspect that makes this book one that everyone should read.
Overall, The Other Black Girl is a very well thought-out book, wrapping important social issues in a though-provoking and compelling plot. Notwithstanding my experience with the narration, I would recommend this book, especially for those who saw and appreciated Get Out.
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