Book Review: The Other Black Girl

Nella is proving herself as an editorial assistant at famed publishing house, Wagner Books. Her editors trust her opinions and her career is progressing [mostly] as she hoped it would. Sure, she wishes she wasn’t the only Black employee at Wagner, but she’s not trying to make waves and abandoned her efforts at diversifying the office when they were met with ambivalence. That’s why she’s thrilled when Hazel joins the team. Finally! Another Black woman who can help with sensitivity reads and even show her a thing or two about scarves. Hazel is sweet as pie and everyone seems to love her…maybe a bit too much? Soon, it’s as if there’s only room for one Black girl at the office. Nella assures herself it’s all in her head until she receives an anonymous note warning her to leave Wagner immediately.

If you’re a fan of Get Out or When No One Is Watching, this book is for you. I think it nicely acknowledged the race politics that exist within a given community. Nella isn’t just navigating the White/Black dynamic; she’s engaging with other Black characters throughout the novel to varying degrees of success. Honestly, this review in the NY Times (by Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of great novel My Sister, The Serial Killer) is pretty spot-on. My only real complaint is that one of the best plot elements (one with a hint of magical realism) isn’t really introduced until the end. There are hints of it earlier, but they don’t get down to it until it feels like it’s rushing to a conclusion. I would have liked a biiiit more of that hinting.

4 out of 5 stars.

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