Rating: 4 / 5
THE OTHER BLACK GIRL by Zakiya Dalila Harris was one of the July book picks for the #SaturdayBookstaClub buddy read I help host over on bookstagram. I had read a lot of great reviews, so was excited for this one!
THE OTHER BLACK GIRL follows Nella Rogers, the only Black employee at Wagner Books. She has put up with a lot from her coworkers in this very white industry. When a new woman starts, another Black woman, Nella is hopeful that Hazel will be a great fit as a coworker and a friend. Unfortunately this doesn’t appear to be the case. Nella begins to see Hazel working against her rather than alongside her, even as Nella has attempted to help Hazel find her place at Wagner.
Things escalate even more when someone begins leaving notes on Nella’s desk. These notes have a threatening tone, telling her to leave Wagner immediately. She isn’t sure who is leaving the notes, but the timing is suspicious with them starting just after Nella’s arrival.
What this book really excelled at was painting a picture of Nella’s existence as the only Black person in the whole of Wagner books. It highlighted the very performative ways that Wagner and her coworkers wanted to speak up and talk about racism, discrimination and other important topics, but still found ways to draw it back around to themselves. When Nella tried to advocate for change, her attempts were quickly struck down.
This book takes some very intriguing twists that I did not anticipate and the tone of threat overshadowing Nella’s life and work, and the frustrations she had as Hazel began to work against her came through very strongly.
I am still not sure how I feel about the ending and what the final message was that the author was trying to put across. This is one where you absolutely need to read own voice reviewers because I certainly don’t think it is my place to weigh in. The reviews that I have read from own voices bookstagrammers are all across the board as well, from love to hate. Regardless of how you feel about the ending, it is a book that will prompt a lot of thought and conversation.