Jayne Allen’s Black Girls Must Die Exhausted (Harper, 2021 – first published in 2018) is unapologetically “black,” but it didn’t choose to be so – it just is, and it’s taken far too long for a book like this just to exist on the same shelves as books by white authors about white women with similar struggles. I’m not sure I’m articulating this the way I want to, the way this book deserves, and the author’s own words will better explain it.
“This book itself is my love letter – to you, to Black women, to women, and to all those who understand the beauty that comes through struggle and the benefit of doing their own work to heal, to understand, to grow, and, most importantly, to love more fully.”
And it is beautiful.
Tabitha Walker’s life is moving along just as she’d planned when it’s suddenly derailed following a routine doctor’s visit; Tabby’s eggs are deteriorating and if she wants children, which she very much does, she’ll have to make some tough decisions and fast. She turns to her grandmother, her father’s mother and the woman she’d been named for, for advice and comfort, just as she’d always done growing up. Tabby’s relationship with Granny Tab is sweetly done, and some of the more poignant scenes happen between the black woman and her white grandmother.
Tabitha also relies heavily on her two closest friends, Laila and Alexis. The three women are remarkably different, but they highlight the importance of sisterhood; Tabitha can easily handle a boy not talking to her, but when she gets in an argument with Laila and Lexi, the silence is unbearable. Laila and Lexi have their own struggles, and the three friends must come together to help heal.
This novel is written by a black woman about black women, but that should in no means limit its audience. Its characters grapple with racism, sexism, imposter syndrome, infertility, infidelity, death, dating woes, family drama, depression, miscarriage, friendships, and fears. It reminds me a bit of Jennifer Weiner’s Little Earthquakes, and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys women’s literature.
Read this book.