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  • Writer's pictureCatriona Fida

The Other Black Girl

“Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.”

A warning before I start, this review will include spoilers.

The book is marketed as a thriller but I felt like a good one hundred pages could have been edited out of the manuscript where nothing of significance happened. I kept reading in hope that it would get better and then, out of nowhere, a side plot is introduced which is never fully explained. Does anyone know why the change in point of view halfway through the book?

By the last fifty pages I just wanted to be put out of my misery. The ending felt really rushed and contrived, not to mention insane - hair products that brainwash Black people into assimilating? Sorry, that is absurd. The characters were SO unlikeable, especially our heroine Nella who we're supposed to relate to, and by the end of the book I had more questions than answers...and not in a good way. It's not just that no one receives their deserved comeuppance in the book, it's that there's no conclusion whatsoever to the story the author spent 350 pages writing. Why?

I’m also not convinced the book sends out a particularly positive message. The crux of the story seems to be about the experiences of marginalised people in the workplace, specifically in publishing, but the onus was placed on whitewashed minorities and their upholding of racist structures, rather than the white bosses who enforce them.

The Other Black Girl was terrible and truthfully I don’t believe it’s even meant to be taken seriously. Perhaps it would translate better as a movie, but as a book I wouldn’t recommend.

Interested to know other people’s thoughts!


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