I finally got my hands on Jayne Allen’s Black Girls Must Be Magic (HarperCollins 2022 – originally published as Black Girls Must Die Exhausted: And Baby Makes Two in 2019 by Quality Black Books). The follow-up to Black Girls Must Die Exhausted continues Allen’s love letter to Black women, and all women.
The second installment opens less than two years after the end of the first. Tabitha learns of her fertility issues in the first novel. Upon the advice of her fertility doctor, the one viable embryo was transferred seemingly successfully. The second novel opens after the transfer. Tabitha is determined to be a “single mother by choice.” She later refers to this as “single mother by courage” after speaking with her doula.
In the initial stages of the pregnancy, she is cautious and afraid. At the appointment that would signal she’s moved from the risky zone to a viable pregnancy, she receives some unsettling news. The baby is healthy and growing, but it’s unsettling news all the same and the trajectory of her life changes. This unexpected turn results in her ex, Marc, returning to her life, and Tabitha is forced to accept that she has to lean on others.
In addition to being forced to make unanticipated decisions, Tabitha is fighting for another promotion at work. This time, she’s seeking a seat at the anchor desk. The microaggressions in the workplace and from the viewership continue; people have complained because of her natural hair, and her boss is concerned the ratings will drop. Tabitha wants to fight it, but she’s exhausted. Luckily, she does have a village, even at work, to support her.
The novel seems empty without Granny Tab, but Granny Tab’s fabulous friend, Ms. Gretchen, fills some of the void. Tab’s friends Alexis and Laila also appear, but it’s not the same. Laila barely appears, and Alexis is struggling with her own choices related to her marriage. Despite being brought together in the first novel and reminded of the importance the three play in each other’s lives, they’re all keeping secrets and not leaning on each other when they should. It’s disappointing, especially since Tabitha references the “village,” which assumedly includes Laila and Alexis, that will help raise her child.
This novel seems more of a pushed together pregnancy steppingstone to the third installment, which will hopefully give Tabitha, Laila and Alexis the happily ever afters they all deserve. I’m not sure when the pub date is for the third and final installment of the trilogy, but I’m ready.
It’s women’s fiction. It’s funny. It’s joy. It’s life. I’d recommend this series to anyone who enjoys women’s fiction.
Read this book.