“Black Girls Must Die Exhausted” by Jayne Allen centers around a 30-something professional woman who learns her fertility is on a quick decline, making her examine her romantic relationship, friendships, and family relationships to see if she’s ready to start a family.
Tabitha Walker is a 33-years-old TV reporter living in Los Angeles who finds out at the beginning of the novel that her eggs are drying up at a faster rate, and she needs to act on preservation methods such as egg freezing. After finding out the news, she’s in a tailspin with being stopped by the police as she heads to work. This situation doesn’t snowball into an important element of the story until the end where she has to report on an officer-involved shooting against a young black male. She’s up for a promotion at work but at odds with Scott, a white male reporter also vying for the same position. On her free time, she hangs out with her grandmother, Granny Tab, whom she’s named after, at the nursing home. Tabitha also hangs out with her friends, Alexis and Laila. Alexis is married to her high school sweetheart, who has a history of cheating, with two young boys while Laila, also a journalist but in the print realm, is juggling several lovers.
The story lacks depth though it contains elements that could’ve gone farther. For example, Tabitha still deals with the trauma of her father abandoning the family when she was younger for his new family with a white woman. The race of her stepmother is emphasized along with Granny Tab being white, but it’s not explored deeper like how it has affected Tabitha being black and the woman who helped raise her to be white. There is a conversation here and there, but it’s on the surface. The story also seems outdated. Tabitha doesn’t know about infertility health coverage, but it’s been advertised so much more in the past few years with companies reaching out to women in mobile clinics and upping social media ads. These fertility startups are using technology to advance knowledge yet that’s not mentioned. Other plotlines seem 10-years-old even with Tabitha approaching her man about the topic of children a year-and-a-half too late; millennial women usually ask the pertinent questions as quick as possible in the dating app world. On the author’s website, the book is compared as an updated “Waiting to Exhale” and “Girlfriends,” but it doesn’t feel like it’s that updated. Also as a journalist, Tabitha’s career doesn’t seem authentic since we barely see her working in the field—very essential as a TV reporter especially along with the partner photographer—until the end, which is weird since the entire book she’s worrying about a promotion. Again, it goes with scraping the surface of a plotline without building it.
Overall, the story sails through to the end bringing up elements that are not explored the way they could be. The first-person narrative sometimes gets too heavy, even just in the first chapter, where the setting feels misconstrued because Tabitha is going on and on about her life, including unnecessary repetitions. This book needs some reworking to emphasize the storyline and to subtract the over-mentioned details, but it’s a somewhat entertaining summer read.