Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Pub date: 1 June 2021
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
The promotional materials for The Other Black Girl describe it as The Devil Wears Prada meets Get Out – I would say this is pretty accurate, though more weighted on the Get Out side of things. The Other Black Girl follows Nella Rogers, an editorial assistant and the only Black employee at Wagner Books. She’s delighted when Hazel, also a Black girl, joins the company – but before long things start to get weird between them, and Nella starts to receive notes telling her to leave the company.
The Other Black Girl is an intense and thrilling read. I thought it was paced really well – Harris leaves enough breadcrumbs throughout to build the tension, which meant that it carried the slower parts of the novel for me, because you always want to know what the hell is actually happening. This novel combines a sort of horror-esque vibe (though, if you’re not a horror reader, don’t worry because it’s not actually scary, more wild/suspenseful) with a commentary on racial tensions/relations (and outright racism) in the workplace. The author brought these episodes to light really well – and it (sadly) felt all too real and realistic, making you feel for Nella and feel rage on her behalf. This is really insightful and interesting commentary on racism in a majority white workplace, and as someone who works in publishing, it’s a lot of food for thought – and I hope it will spark a lot of conversation and the industry and what people can do better.
Where I think the book falls down is the coming together of the different narratives and plots in this book. I felt like the horror element could have been pushed much, much further (as I said, it’s not scary or even that creepy, just suspenseful). I also think too much was left to resolve at the end of the book, and I felt like the different threads didn’t necessarily gel very well (the thread about Kendra Rae and Lynn felt like it wasn’t really wrapped up, and I feel like it wasn’t all that clear what was actually happening). Nonetheless, I still really enjoyed it and found the whole book fascinating, thought perhaps the last chapter was unsatisfying.
The Other Black Girl is a well-written, gripping novel, and I think there’s so much to unpack/discuss about it and its commentary on race especially.