Book Review: ‘The Other Black Girl’ by Zakiya Dalila Harris


By Jenae Padilla | For AC JosepH Media

This book took me two weeks to read.

I was surprised it took me so long. It’s hard for me to weave through my thoughts on this book because on paper, or I guess not on paper, right? But in theory the concept is kind of cool, it’s very original and thought provoking.

What fails and takes this book with it is the execution of the narrative. I don’t mind there being conflict between two black characters. I don’t mind there being inner conflict within the characters themselves, but what I find the biggest issue is how the Author decides to unfold the story.

Broken into four parts and 354 pages it covers three different story lines. Again, the idea behind this is intriguing but the writer does not pull it off. It reads clunky and disjointed.

When the three-story lines finally come together the climax is weak. It fizzles into nothing and leaves me dry and very thirsty. Unfortunately, right off the bat I do not like the main character Nella. As a character I don’t think she grows or has any redeeming qualities.

She is insecure, naïve and stuck. I haven’t worked in corporate America since I was 16 at my first job at Walmart, so I can’t fully understand what she’s talking about, but her point of view was stagnant.

Her words didn’t match her actions and she was easily discouraged. She liked to talk a big game but did very little against the opposition she claimed she was facing. Her insecurities based off her lifestyle and upbringings to me forced her to try to be someone she wasn’t.

I can’t say I was surprised at the choices she made by the end of the book. I do however wonder what happened to her bestie Malaika. Where is she now?

In fact, there are a few holes that aren’t filled. Maybe a sequel? The ‘protagonist’ Hazel made me laugh more times than I think was intended and it was because she just kept her cool no matter what. She was def a bit off and very calculatingly cold. When the twist hits, I was left wanting something bigger. It felt small.

The overall message I got from the book is be careful who you let do your hair. LOL. But seriously, I don’t think I could relate too much because so much of the book revolved around working in corporate spaces with and for white people and I have not had to do that as an adult.

I think the idea of ‘Other Black Girls’ is weird only because it feels like it lumps us all together or makes it seem we are in competition with each other, which is another theme explored in this book.

3 Teardrops

Bio: An author, communication specialist and livestream coordinator for Cornerstone Community Church in Vineland, Padilla is a member of Front Runner New Jersey’s inaugural 30 Under 35 Top Young African American Leaders in South Jersey list in 2022.

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