cover image Black Girls Must Die Exhausted

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted

Jayne Allen. HarperPerennial, $16.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-313790-5

Allen’s promising debut follows a Black reporter as she navigates matters of race, womanhood, and loyalty while gunning for a promotion at the L.A. TV station where she works. After 33-year-old Tabitha Walker’s father left her and her mother when Tabitha was little, she grew close to her white paternal grandmother and visited her weekly at her nursing home, dreaming of a time when she could move both of them into a house. Back in the present, Tabitha’s boyfriend reveals he’s not ready to marry and be a father, so Tabitha spends the money she’d been saving for a house on freezing her eggs. Meanwhile, Tabitha’s oldest friend separates from her husband after he admits his infidelity, and another friend dates a married man and starts keeping secrets. As Tabitha rises at work, she emphasizes the importance of perspective in her reporting on issues that affect Black people, such as gentrification and encounters with police, and Allen smartly mirrors the theme of perspective with the story of Tabitha’s personal life, as Tabitha considers how her own point of view has shaped her feelings for others. Though the writing can sometimes be clunky, with overly descriptive sentences, Allen has the chops to become a terrific storyteller. There’s a lot of potential here. Agent: Lucinda Halpern, Lucinda Literary. (Aug.)