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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

Overall rating

3.6 out of 5
5 Stars
34 reviews have 5 stars
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  • Darkly Witty Psychological Masterpiece

    “As though she sensed Nella was about to break, Hazel sucked her teeth. She was still staring at Nella, except now her eyes were cool, serene. “C’mon, sis,” she said, quietly. “You can be real with me.” ‘The Other Black Girl’ caught my eye the first time I saw its striking cover. Temi Coker’s (@temi.coker) cover art uses bold primary colours: a dark blue background with a woman’s red-and-yellow earring in the shape of a fist and a comb that serves as the i in Girl. Impossible to miss in a bookstore. Once I began reading this deeply engaging, darkly witty, psychological masterpiece I couldn’t put it down. It blew my expectations right out of the water and that’s saying something as it was already tipped to be one of the most highly anticipated books of 2021. Zakiya Dalila Harris sets her debut novel in the publishing world. She, too, worked in the industry before she left to complete this novel. In ‘The Other Black Girl’ she deftly but unflinchingly exposes two crucial issues relevant in today’s corporate world, those of tokenism and systemic racism. 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’, while Nella is left behind. Threatening notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk. It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these messages, but as Nella starts to obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career. To continue may risk revealing the novel’s plot twists, so I’ll leave you with an exuberant high five, my recommendation and confirmation that this is my favourite novel of the year so far. A huge thank you to @NetGalley and @Atria Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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    16 person found this review helpful

    16 people found this review helpful

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Good storyline

    I received this ebook from Simon and Schuster Canada via NetGalley. I read the description of this book and, seeing as I loved The Devil Wears Prada, I was ready for a funny book with a feel good ending. Man was I Wrong!!! This may take place in an office but that is the only comparison to The Devil Wears Prada. The bit in the description about being the only black person at her publishing company also gave me the impression that it would delve into this discrimination and the multitude of ways it holds people of colour back but, again, this was not how the book went. This book is more of a psychological thriller than any other genre in my opinion. Perhaps if the description had been written in a different way then I wouldn’t have been so disappointed with the book. The book is really slow at building the real storyline and a Nella doesn’t react to many situations like one would think. Why wouldn’t she tell her boyfriend about the notes? She is upset and scared so why not tell the one person that has your back? The ending was a complete change from the rest of the book but it really isn’t enough to save it. I would have given this a higher rating if I had been asked to read this with no introduction.

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    15 person found this review helpful

    15 people found this review helpful

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Race, Workplace and Hair

    The Other Black Girl is a novel by Zakiya Dalila Harris, who has made it difficult to attach a genre to her debut work. Thriller…science fiction…mystery…society criticism… Nella is an assistant in the office of a book publisher. She finds herself struggling being the only Black person with a desk job there and is enthused when she sees another Black woman come in for an interview and is further buoyed when she is hired. As luck would have it, she is also an assistant and takes over a desk right across from Nella. Hazel, the new hire, relies on Nella to show her the ropes but soon appears to become the favourite, both in the eyes of Nella’s boss and the rest of the office. Opinions go further sideways when Nella outwardly criticizes the new work of the companies most popular author, calling into question the insertion and background of the sole Black character. Nella is then the recipient of a few handwritten notes suggesting she leave the company immediately. She discusses this with her best friend and decides to do some digging to find out who wants her out and why. The novel draws on many current issues in society: interracial marriage, the struggle minorities face in the workplace & the advancement there-in, how one needs to suppress their true feelings to adjust to societal norms, and even black hair. I rather enjoyed the behind the scenes look into the publishing world and being briefly exposed to what goes into the books we hold. I know I’m supposed to love this book as it’s being dubbed as the book of the summer and is compared in story to Get Out. However, I found the telling of the story too disjointed. There is not a suitable layer of background as the narration flips between parties from chapter to chapter. It presents itself as murky from the jump. The reveal at the end is presented well and is a great read but it left me wondering if Harris didn’t start with the reveal and work back. If so, her editor should have helped more than Nella ever did, If you have a few days and a clear head to follow a muddled story, pick this up. If not, wait for the inevitable film. Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing a copy for review.

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    11 person found this review helpful

    11 people found this review helpful

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • One of the best books of the year

    This story was so compelling, and one that I'll be thinking about for a long time. A must-read for 2021. Already can't wait for more from Zakiya Dalila Harris.

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    0 person found this review helpful

    0 people found this review helpful

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

  • Unexpected, suspenseful and addictive

    Unexpected, suspenseful, and addictive; The Other Black Girl is not only a thriller, but also a view into the world of work-place micro-aggressions. I loved the glimpse into life as a literary assistant and the politics of publishing too. Thank you NetGalley for this amazing debut by Zakiya Dalila Harris.

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    0 person found this review helpful

    0 people found this review helpful

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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