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Snapshots of Lives Real and Imagined

A Stranger's Pose 
by Emmanuel Iduma and Abraham Oghobase, et al. with foreword by Teju Cole
Cassava Republic Press
creative non-fiction memoir with photographs

Scheduled for release this week, here's last week's review:

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted 
by Jayne Allen
Quality Black Books  September 2018
contemporary adult fiction with chick lit leanings

There is a substantive distinction between BLACK fiction and fiction written about characters who happen to be black, among other traits, that’s difficult to quantify. Black Girls Must Die Exhausted, the first entry in a scheduled trilogy, falls into the latter category. It is integrated in ways that mainstream contemporary fiction rarely is beyond ethnicity, including socioeconomic class, geographic region, age, and gender.

Blend a 21st-century New Adult version of Waiting to Exhale and “Girlfriends” with candid revelations about traumatic injuries of the spirit reminiscent of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf. Toss in the caustic wisdom of seasoned women a la “Golden Girls” or “Grace and Frankie” into a sometimes exclamatory narrative style familiar to fans of Sophie Kinsella to create this endearing tale that’s provocative, funny, and emotionally satisfying.

Of its many thematic layers about 33-year-old Tabitha’s professional and personal struggles, Black Girls Must Die Exhausted portrays the challenges of women to maintain their integrity of self and exert agency from multiple angles: career opportunities, proactive medical and mental health advocacy, family obligations, and romantic relationships.

Tabitha’s, Alexis’s, and Laila’s complicated man troubles each qualify for their own “Ask Steve Harvey” segment. Tabitha broods about single, thirty-something men’s attitudes toward monogamy on page 10:

They treated love like a disease you catch, and if real adult commitment was the incurable version of it, then for them family was basically death.

The ensuing relationship drama practically screams validation of Dr. Maya Angelou’s quote about believing people the first time they reveal who they really are.

Inclusive representation is also addressed from multiple points of view. Seeds for a less fraught variation of themes from The Hate U Give are planted on page 27 when Tabitha thinks, “Communities that were underrepresented in the newsroom were underrepresented in the news.” The words newsroom and news are easily substituted for words like innovators and innovations or executive suites and workplaces.     

Tabitha’s rude awakening regarding her fertility options resonates as a timely call for proactive self-advocacy consistent with revelations shared by former first lady Michelle Obama in Becoming, the #startasking campaign started by 2018 Mrs. North Carolina, and the series by Nicole Ellis for The Washington Post.

The level of reading enjoyment provided by Black Girls Must Die Exhausted bodes well for the release of And Baby Makes Two in September 2019.

[Proofing note: In the NetGalley ARC offsetting commas for directly addressing a person by name are frequently missing as on page 48, “Hi Nate,” and throughout the text, a pattern that was probably corrected in the final galley.]


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