Such a Fun Age

This book moves through the tests and trials of dating and relationships, developing a career, post-graduate crisis, and looks deeply at race in interpersonal and intimate relationships and employment with such relatable ease.

Let me start by saying that Black Lives have always mattered over here and for me and my people. This blog was created to center the voices and stories of Women of Color and Black women in particular. This current moment in the movement for Black lives is critical and history making. I’m very much committed to doing the continued work to educate myself and do the reading both in critical contexts and through the work of authors like Kiley Reid and will be sharing what I encounter along the way. I hope you find Literary Black Girl to be a place that helps you do so as well. Now, on to the review…


Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

This was a super quick read for me; it pulled me in, and one afternoon, I found myself unable to put the book down until I had reached the last page. I was drawn to the story of a young Black woman about my age who was a nanny for a white, upper middle class family. I have been that woman. I nannied and babysat as my primary form of income for just under a year during my first year of post-grad. I lived in Utah at the time. Almost all the listings were for white, Mormon families with 3-5 kids that lived on culdesacs in newly developed neighborhoods in the suburbs that rarely wanted to pay nearly enough for the labor that they requested. No one seemed to care or give a thought about what it would mean for a Black woman to come into these children’s homes and assume a position of authority in a culture where Black people were less than 5% of the state population and largely invisible from the actual communities that these children grew up in.

That being said, even I was unprepared for the depths of Alix’s near obsession with her nanny, Emira Tucker. She went to such lengths to attempt to get to know her and be involved in her life. The invitations for drinks after work are something that are familiar to me too, and I felt the same sense of discomfort that Emira did. Another critical point of the book was Emira’s ability to simply mind her own business. Alix was initially drawn to her because she knew nothing about her past in New York and seemed disinterested in digging into that at all. In many of my experiences, something about a Black woman who doesn’t care to know all the intimate details of your life and keeps those of her own life to herself is disconcerting to a lot of white people.

This book moves through the tests and trials of dating and relationships, developing a career, post-graduate crisis, and looks deeply at race in interpersonal and intimate relationships and employment with such relatable ease. It also sparked complex dialogues between my peers and I that were reading the book simultaneously. The book problematizes the idea of caretaking as illegitimate or shameful work, especially for college educated Black women. Kelley, Emira’s boyfriend for much of the book (don’t worry, I’ll try not to spoil too much) says something along the lines of “The only person who has a problem with you being a nanny is you” to Emira. That really sat with me and raised memories of my own sense of discomfort with nannying while recognizing that it was the only work that was readily available to me at the time. My own paternal grandmother had raised white children in her younger years as well because it was work that was readily available to her then too. Something about me going as far as I had at the time and accomplishing things that she couldn’t have even dreamed for me only to end up taking care of white children just like she had made me uneasy because I realized that accomplishments and education do not guarantee your access into your desired life. But really, what’s wrong with being a nanny on face value? For me, it’s when you add the history that surrounds Black women’s labor in this country, that domestic work becomes much more fraught. It seems that you can always count on white people of a certain kind of means to trust Black and Brown women to take care of their children. I walked into non-domestic job interview after job interview and my Blackness often worked against me. I was employed within two days after making a profile.

I also had a conversation with a friend about the book’s conclusion. She said that she wished Emira’s story had led to her having a higher earning potential. [Spoiler Alert] Reid writes at the start of chapter twenty eight, “It would be unfair to say that Emira Tucker stopped babysitting.” Emira ultimately spends the rest of her career as an assistant to the regional director of the US Census Bureau, and she was 32 when she received a yearly salary of $52K. I pushed back on my friend, asking why it is that Black women have to be CEOs making six figures a year to be considered “successful” or “be doing enough”? Emira chose the job she did because it made her happy and she liked the work. It gave her the stability that she needed. Can we not, as Black women, just want to be and work a job that we enjoy whether it pays us big figures or not?

Kiley Reid has a deft hand at writing the stories of young Black women like myself. I read myself all throughout these pages, and yet she still kept me on the hook with plot twists and surprises along the way. It’s an excellent read for summer, and I’d especially recommend it for recent college graduates who need help remembering that they’re not alone in this confusing time.

Have you read Such a Fun Age? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Men We Reaped

he considers the legacy of Black women in the South, of eldest daughters turned caretakers as their own mothers worked long, difficult hours, of the women left behind by the men who were unwilling to commit or honor wedding vows. How Black girls in the South have to grow up so quickly. How little they have to look forward to when they can trace the line of their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers all in much the same way.

Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward

I was all of sixteen pages into this book when I started weeping. I knew then that this would not be one of those easy reads, those books that I can just slip into and zip straight through to the end. It took me the better part of two weeks to finish this because I knew every time I picked it up, my heart was going to be freshly broken. And yet, I kept coming back. Men We Reaped gutted me. I, too, am a Black woman from the South as who was desperate to leave home and did only to continue to be called back by the death of those that I loved and my love for the place that continued to kill them. Love and death.

How could I know then that this would be my life: yearning to leave the South and doing so again and again, but perpetually called back home by a love so thick it choked me.

pg. 195

Jesmyn Ward’s memoir calls back to her childhood in the Mississippi gulf in and around a town called DeLisle. She traces her family’s history in, away from, and back to this town. To be Black and southern is to have a keen ancestral knowledge of struggle, pain and loss, no matter how unasked for it may be. Young Ward feels these things in a pronounced way even as she lacked the langauge for them as a child. In between chapters about her coming of age, she tells the stories of the men reaped: four friends and her younger brother. Roger Eric Daniels III. Demond Cook. Charles Joseph Martin. Ronald Wayne Lizana. Joshua Adam Dedeaux.

I think it’s important that we know their names. They were here. Their ghosts still populate the bedrooms they used to occupy, the chairs at dinner tables, couches in living room, the streets they used to walk down and the remnants of the cars they drove. They are still here in the hearts of the people who knew and loved them. They are still here on these pages.

Ward painstakingly recalls the details of the time leading up to their death. She keeps a brave record of her own drug and alcohol use as she and her friends and family coped with these loses. I can’t help but imagine how badly it hurt to write this book. These are not simply eulogies or memorials. She writes these men as complex and full within the system and culture that was built around them. They are not just statistics or anonymous data.

There was so much in this book that felt like my home. I read my family’s stories in between its lines. Ward talks about the fear that gripped her as she watched her younger brother, Joshua, grow up. Fear that he was in danger. Fear that he was all alone. Fear, I think, that comes from a subconscious understanding that at any point, for any reason, her brother might not come home. I know that fear well too. I watch him be foolhardy and young and carefree, and worry about the stakes for his carelessness. This world often punishes young, Black men who want too much. Death is always close by.

Ward’s relationship with her mother takes up a significant portion of the text as well. She considers the legacy of Black women in the South, of eldest daughters turned caretakers as their own mothers worked long, difficult hours, of the women left behind by the men who were unwilling to commit or honor wedding vows. How Black girls in the South have to grow up so quickly. How little they have to look forward to when they can trace the line of their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers all in much the same way. Ward’s determination to discover what else her life could be and hold by leaving was then a bold imagination of what she could not yet see, even as she continued to be called back to the South — to home — over and over.

I think you should reap Men We Reaped because these stories and these men deserve to hold space in your heart and mind as well. You will read the stories of the young, Black men you have lost here too. You will see your families legacies on the pages. You might see how to fashion some beauty from those ashes as well.

Have you read Men We Reaped? Let’s chat in the comments below! I hope that you and your loved ones are staying home as much as is possible and are safe, healthy, and well.

With the Fire on High

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

You already know I’m a sucker for a good YA novel. Elizabeth Acevedo first came on my radar with the major success of her previous book, The Poet X, which blew up on #BookTwitter. Since then, she has literally sky rocketed to the top of the New York Times Bestsellers List earning some major book awards along the way — she’s a National Book Award winner. She even does book recommendations on the Today Show. Sis is truly in her bag, and I am all the way here for it.

To the question I’m sure all of you have on your minds — “Well why haven’t you reviewed The Poet X then?” — I actually haven’t read it yet. *cringes* I know, I know, but I happened upon this book in a beautiful, new bookstore I discovered tucked away in the corner of a mall near me that has been teetering on the edge of collapse since I’ve lived here. The Poet X was probably there on the shelf too, but this wonderous store had a few signed first editions of With the Fire on High, and I just couldn’t pass it up. This might be worth a lot one day the way Acevedo is taking over!

With the Fire on High tells the story of a young, Afro-Puerto Rican woman named Emoni Santiago. The story opens by giving us the back story of how Emoni got pregnant her freshman year, and could have easily given us one-dimensional, young-Black-girl-in-the-projects-becomes-single-mother plot lines, but Acevedo crafts a beautiful story around identity, self-discovery, family, friendship and love all while breaking down a little bit of Puerto Rico’s colonial history and how it intertwines with the rest of the world. Emoni’s characterization is rich and vibrant. I appreciated the complexity and care with which she was written. She loves to cook, but it is framed as more than just a love for baking pies. The kitchen is where Emoni goes to when she is tired, stressed, confused — anytime she needs to be grounded. It is what connects her all the way from Philadelphia to North Carolina where her dead mother’s aunt sends her family recipies and even further down to Puerto Rico where her father lives. The way that Emoni cooks points to the way in which she is a literal representation of the intersection of so many identities: her mother was a Black American from North Carolina and her father is from Puerto Rico. When her mother dies giving birth to her, her father goes back to his homeland, leaving ‘Buela to handle the responsibility of raising her. All of this is what Emoni brings to the kitchen. Her heritage is in her flavors.

Now a senior in high school, the opportunity to take a culinary arts class taught by a professional chef throws a wrench in the expectations Emoni had for herself. Here is a chance to explore something she truly loves and is even called to, but its risky to dream. She had resigned herself to making safe choices to make sure that Babygirl is provided for. As a young, Black girl whose heart was crushed by her child’s father’s inability to commit and her own father’s absence, she likes to be sure before she steps out on a limb. Things are even more complicated by the arrival of a new boy, Malachi, who is unabashed in his wholesome pursuit of her friendship and more. He also is asking for her trust, and she’s not sure how to handle that.

The mentorship that she receives from a Chef Ayden in the new culinary arts program at her school pushes her out of her comfort zone and teaches her to respect the art of cooking beyond something for which she just has a natural skill and sends her all the way to Spain to explore cooking in a culture that she never before dreamed was in her reach.

All of these themes and questions crescendo as Emoni leans into her calling and the unknown. In learning to trust herself, she begins to learn to trust others again and opens herself up to the possibility that she can have a full, joyful life pursuing something she is passionate about while caring for her daughter.

You should read With the Fire on High if you have ever felt like the life of your dreams is just beyond your reach due to cirumstances, responsibilities, and other limitations. Elizabeth Acevedo offers a brilliant recipe for turning your lemons into lemonade.

Have you read this book? Let’s chat in the comments below!

The Rib

The Rib by Vanessa Bryant

If you are looking for a read that will help you feel seen and supported through your season of transition and change — this is it. Vanessa Byrant happens to be a friend of mine; we go to the same church. When I heard she had published a book, I immediately knew I needed to support. It’s one of the best $10 I’ve spent in a while.

Written as a series journal entries, The Rib explores themes of vulnerability and sisterhood in those times when we convince ourselves that we are most alone. Vanessa writes from the perspective of a wife and mother, chronicling experieces that span new motherhood to transitioning from a full-time career woman to a full-time stay-at-home mom and struggling with finding her purpose in the midst of self-doubt. However, even I, a very single and childless twenty-three year old was able to find inspiration and kinship in these pages.

In entry one, she writes,

“As women, we often feel that our individual identities have to be sacrificed for the roles we play in the lives of others. As I reached out to other women around me, I learned that so many were yearing for the same thing I was: to feel valued, to make a positive impact, and create the space in our lives for self-fulfilling activities while also excelling in our rols as wives and mothers.”

the rib, pg. 15

While, I’m not a wife or a mother, I could strongly connect with the desire to create meaning and to feel valued as well as finding out that the women around me crave the same thing when I am vulerable and open with them about my life. I found meaning as Vanessa shares about creating and tending to her relationships with the intention of “creating a space where we all feel safe and comfortable expressing our emotions and unpacking our challenges with one another…letting all walls down and to be encouraging voices for one another” (pg. 34). I sat with those words for a moment and considered how I could show up in a better way for my friends and cultivate more spaces for us to be real with one another not only with our struggles but also with our successes. Perhaps we would have a more loving friendship dynamic with fewer petty offenses and hurt feelings if we felt more comfortable expressing our feelings to one another.

I recently had the immense pleasure of attending a live reading of The Rib, and Vanessa posed a powerful question as she began, “Why do we feel shame about the way we feel?” Vulnerability, being open and honest about our truth, is the key to not feeling so alone. It “create[s] a space for us to grow together” (pg. 26). In a very real sense, we need people. (*cue the end of the Ari Lennox track “New Apartment”). Being a part of a community allows us to realize that we are not alone.

Vanessa lives out her writing about being brave and vulnerable. The lovely cover art is by Deun Ivory of Black Girl in Om. (Yes — I squealed with excitement too). She reached out to inquire if they could collaborate, and the two of them created an image that so perfectly speaks to the center of this book — a woman laid bare and in bloom.

This book resonated with me even as Vanessa and I are in very different places. I immediately reached out to all my friends, urging them to pick up a copy before our girls trip at the end of the summer, and I even went to far as to gift my very best friend a copy for herself. My mom started reading it as well after my enthusiastic recommendation. I truly believe there’s something here for everyone. Grab a copy for yourself and be encouraged today.


I recently listed to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Still Processing, in which the hosts Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris drew parallels between Jordan Peele’s newest thriller, Us, and Beloved. I was so intrigued by the connection they make between the characters Red in the film and Beloved in the text  that I decided to explore them further here. So I hope you’ve seen the movie too!

Beloved by Toni Morrison

My parents were shocked when I told them I was reading Beloved for the first time. I think most people who know my reading history would be, but I believe that I finally picked up this book at just the right time. It was my senior year of college when I engaged in Toni Morrison’s work for the first time. I read Sula and the Bluest Eye for a Black Women Writers course that not only fostered my understanding of Black feminist theory but introduced me to work by Black women that solidified my artistic perspective as a creative but also continues to literally save my life to this day. Black women writers — novelists, essayists, and poets — stake out the physical space I need to exist in the world as I know it today. This blog came about as a result of needing to sit in that space, and I am so thankful for us.

Beloved is a story of a woman who is trying to make sense of her life before and after slavery and is haunted by her choices. I’m going to assume that many of you aren’t like me and didn’t take 23 years to read one of Morrison’s most iconic works, so I’ll refrain from summarizing the story and offer what I hope will be a unique perspective. I recently listed to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Still Processing, in which the hosts Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris drew parallels between Jordan Peele’s newest thriller, Us, and Beloved. I was so intrigued by the connection they make between the characters Red in the film and Beloved in the text  that I decided to explore them further here. So I hope you’ve seen the movie too!

In the book, Beloved materializes as the physical manifestation of the baby Sethe killed rather than give back up to slavery. As the story unfolds, we see that Beloved is fixated on the belief that Sethe left her. The woman whose “face is [her] own” refused to smile at her and left her in the dark, cramped place (248). If we look at both the film and the book, clearly laid out is the story of Beloved’s neglect in the “underworld” and Red’s neglect in the tunnels. They both have a singular desire for revenge for being left behind. Beloved finds her way back to Sethe and what seems at first to be just an obsessive level of attention develops into a insatiable desire to take back everything that Sethe took from her. This is much more than a theoretical metaphor — as Sethe withers away, Beloved grows fatter.

What’s central to Jenna and Wes’ connection between Beloved and Red is that they are both maliciously childlike in their action. While the violence of killing the entire American population is obviously not that of the average child, the end goal of Red’s sceme is to reinact the “Hands Across America” 1986 campaign — a fixation from the shirt she was wearing when she was trapped down in the tunnels as a child. Beloved’s childish demand for all of Sethe’s attention and care, in spite of the presence of another child, Denver, is epitomized by the tantrums she throws when she does not immediately get her way. Whens she and Sethe enter into this “game” of mother and daughter, Denver is boxed out, and when the consequences are hunger and starvation, she is forced to leave her home, a thing she has not done since she was a child. Before Beloved’s arrival, Denver had been the spoiled one, the one whose whims were encouraged. Beloved’s childishness forces Denver’s maturation in order to save both herself and her mother. Denver always knew that Beloved was her sister, and lived in fear that whatever welled up in her mother that let her kill her the first time would come again. It’s when she realizes that it is her mother that she must protect from Beloved, that she must counter childish games with adult resolve.

There is an important thread throughout the novel about how grief haunts Sethe and the repercussions of her actions continue to echo over the years of her life. There is the trauma that she herself carries as someone who endured and escaped slavery only to have it track her to the doorstep of what had been her safehouse coupled with the reality of what happens the seeds she has sown come to pass. In both Us and Beloved, the trauma is not experienced solely by the mothers of these stories. Both of their families are caught up and forced to make hard decisions and fight for their lives. All but one of Sethe’s living children leave 124 house and are never heard from again. Adelaide’s children must either kill or be killed. As Jenna Wortham says in Still Processing, these are the stories of “a Black woman who cannot escape herself.”

Beloved circles around Sethe’s action in the same way the Us circles Adelaide’s. Morrison’s writing creates an ever clearer lens through which we see Sethe’s actions and her reasons. In both, each woman is trying to do the best that they can for their children — to give them the life they never had. Central to the story is the question of what will we do in the name of love? Sethe would have seen all her children dead than as slaves. Adelaide leads her family into a fight for their lives in order to maintain what she had. For both of them, there are repercussions both seen and unforeseen.

At the end of this podcast episode, host Wessley Morris asks, “How free can we really be when all of us aren’t free?” Sethe thought she was setting Beloved free by killing her, but in doing so condemned herself to a lifetime of haunting. She seemed content to carry the burden of a baby ghost wrecking her home, but the weight proved to be too much for most of her family. Even when they are finally free of her physical manifestion at the close of the novel, I am left wondering what the cost of choosing to forget her will be.

You should read Toni Morrison’s Beloved if you value a challenge. For me, Morrison has never presented an easy read. Her writing both obscures and reveals a thing at the same time, and this book exemplifies that. Beyond the difficulty of the experience, this is a story that is gritty and raw and asks a hard question of our humanity: What are the consequences of love?

What did you think of Beloved? or Jordan Peele’s Us? Do you see the parallels between the two? Let’s chat in the comments below. Also make sure you check out Still Processing for more amazing, intellectual conversations about Black culture and art!

Thick and Other Essays

In Thick, Cottom writes on the Black woman’s body — how it is judged by our own, by others and the life or death outcomes of that judging. She reminds readers to “Trust Black Women,” and of the consequences of stripping Black girls of their girlhood. She discusses the heirarchy of Blackness in how one is deemed more or less acceptable based on being “black-black” or “worthy black” ethnic black. 

Thick and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

I will start by saying that I am deeply sorry for my completely unanticipated hiatus from posting reviews. Truthfully, this is the first book I have actually finished this year. I say this with a consumate amount of shame, but here we are, midway through February, and there’s nothing I can really do about it. However, if I had to pick a book to be your first 2019 read, Thick would be it. Run, literally, and go get it.

My best friend gifted me this book only days after it came on my radar, and I was so excited to get into it that I stopped reading Becoming at what was arguably its most interesting point to start it. Little did I know that this would be one of the most inspiring texts that I have ever read. The first and title essay alone snatched up my attention before it even started. Each essay is precluded by lines from a selected work, song, poem, etc. “Thick” is prefaced by three quotes, one of which is from Lucille Clifton:

these hips are big hips

they need space to

move around in.

they don’t fit into little

petty spaces. these hips

are free hips.

I knew then, that this book was for me — a thick, dark skinned Black girl from the southern sister to Cottom’s native North Carolina. I have spent a lot of time thinking and writing and dancing about my hips. As a dancer, my artistic focus has been to make Black woman celebratory dances in a field that likes nothing more than to shut Black women out (while voraciously stealing from us), especially Black girls and women that look like me. So, my heart leapt with anticipation for what I was about to dive into.

Cottom writes the kind of deeply researched yet conversational academic essays that I am going to graduate school in the fall to write. She tells her stories of being thick and bowlegged and Black and woman with a sense of self-assurance that sometimes made me laugh out loud while also writing “YES!!” in the margins of the text because her stories are my stories — whether they are my own or passed on to me by my mother or grandmothers or great aunties. She tells our stories and then directs you to the receipts just in case you want to check her facts. I excitedly flipped back and forth to read every single corresponding note in the back of the book, and expanded my 2019 reading list extensively in the process.

In Thick, Cottom writes on the Black woman’s body — how it is judged by our own, by others and the life or death outcomes of that judging. She reminds readers to “Trust Black Women,” and of the consequences of stripping Black girls of their girlhood. She discusses the heirarchy of Blackness in how one is deemed more or less acceptable based on being “black-black” or “worthy black” ethnic black.

Whether at a dinner table or in grand theories, the false choice between black-black and worthy black is a trap. It poses that ending blackness was the goal of anti-racist work when the real goal has always been and should always be ending whiteness. (Cottom 152).

In only eight essays, Thick provides an extensive and thorough look at the experience of Black women in America, and proves, as Cottom writes in “Girl 6,” that “[Black women] are trustworthy subjects, of our own experiences and of ways of knowing” (Cottom 220). I am often a slower reader of academic essays, but what sets Thick apart is that this was a collection of essays in which I saw myself on many levels. In addition to seeing my own thoughts and experiences amplified, in Cottom, I saw for the first time a Black female academic from the South like me, truly doing the kind of work that I want to do myself.

The reason I created Literary Black Girl is the reason why I do almost everything in my life — to give space and credence to black women. To effectively “Trust Black Women.” To echo my experience and those of the women and sister friends around me who are living the same thing in different states or countries and have lived it in different times. Too often, Black women are told to be quiet to save the “race.” As Cottom writes in Thick, “We are taught to blame ourselves. We fear reprisal for speaking up. But black women and girls face additional burdens of protechting the reputations of black boys and men. As black feminists have argued, that burden has trapped us in cultural silences that a focus on gender violence alone cannot capture” (Cottom 193). I have seen this play out in my own family. My Nana will never come out and tell you that she was raped. My Grandma died a year ago this month, and with her went the things about which she remained silent. I didn’t learn of the traumas of her daughters, one of whom is my mother, until a year ago.

Why are we so quiet?

I am so grateful for Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom for writing this book because in doing so she is making much needed noise. She refuses silence in exchange for the comfortability of men and the white supremacist culture around her. Speaking up is part of how we get free. Because of reading this book, I will be a little more loud and unapologetic in my own life. You should read Thick and Other Essays if you want to do so, too.

Have you read Thick yet? If so, let’s chat in the comments below. What were your takeaways? I’d love to know!

A Pride and Prejudice Remix: Pride

What does it mean when the only space that you’ve ever been able to claim as your own is invaded with people who don’t look like you, think like you, or care to understand your experiences and perspective? Get this book for your younger loved ones and tell them that you see them and care. In Pride, Zoboi does just that. 

A Pride and Prejudice Remix: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

I bought this book after Ibi Zoboi’s response to a trite, extremely problematic and racist review of the book came up on my Twitter timeline. Her scathing indictment of a poorly done and insulting review published on the Wall Street Journal by Meghan Cox Gurdon was so “articulate and tight” (to quote my own tweets lol) that I literally went straight to Amazon and purchased it myself. This was in September, and in classic fashion, I added it to the steadily growing pile of “Read this next!!” books on my night stand. I finally picked it up at the end of November around Thanksgiving, and it was absolutely phenomenal. I am excited to present it as a part of my Christmas List!

I’ll start by saying that Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is easily my favorite classic book. It’s one of the first major literary works that I ever read, and it has held a lofty status in my heart ever since. I was super intrigued by the premise of Zoboi’s modern retelling set in the heart of Brooklyn and centered on Afro-Latina characters. In reading the book, I was called back to the Austen text over and over again, and I deeply appreciate the care with which Zoboi approached the original framework of this story while finding ways to refresh it and spin a new tale.

Our protagonist and narrator, Zuri Benitez, is a 17 year old Haitian and Dominican girl who is navigating the changing landscape of her community and family. Gentrification is rearing its ugly head in her neighborhood as more and more wealthy buyers move in, driving up property values and rent. This is personified by the wealthy Darcy brothers, Ainsley and Darius, who move in across the street at the beginning of the summer. Her older sister, Janae, comes home from her first year of college in the opening pages of the book. Zuri is immediately apprehensive of the “bougie” Darcy family. When Ainsley and Janae fall for each other almost immediately (and fall apart almost as quickly), Zuri is caught up in her feelings of familial loyalty and a protectiveness not only of her sister, but also of the neighborhood that the boys, Darius in particular, don’t seem to understand or appreciate. As her own feelings for Darius begin to become complicated, Zuri must grapple with unexpected changes she never before considered.

I could give you a run down of the ins and outs of the plot, but if you’re familiar with Austen’s novel, you already know, and if you’re not, then what a lovely opportunity for you to explore something new. I would rather spend my time here talking about what excited me most about this novel: the poetry sprinkled throughout. Part of the way in which Zuri interacts with and makes sense of the world around her is through writing. Zoboi has these beautiful poems, sometimes as stream of consciouness thoughts inserted in the midst of a scene or as an anchor to a chapter, blended throughout the book, and I think that they provide the breath from which a story like Pride and Prejudice benefits greatly. Many of Zuri’s interior thoughts and motivations are revealed to us through her poems, and it builds trust between us as readers and her as our narrator.

This story also ties together Afro-Latin rituals celebrating Ochùn and various other Orishas. Zuri’s beloved Madrina, who owns the complex where they all live, does consultations and bembé celebrations where they dance to call down Ochùn in the basement of the building. In this one building alone we see the complex intersection of West Africa and Latin America brought together by slavery transplanted and alive and flourishing in Brooklyn, New York just like it is in many of our own families and traditions all over the world.

I definitely recommend this book for those that are looking for a fresh, vibrant and pro-Black take on a classic tale. Ibi Zoboi crafts a story that feels relatable and familiar and is the story of so many Black children who are impacted by the changing landscapes of their own communities. What does it mean when the only space that you’ve ever been able to claim as your own is invaded with people who don’t look like you, think like you, or care to understand your experiences and perspective? Get this book for your younger loved ones and tell them that you see them and care. In Pride, Zoboi does just that.

Have you read A Pride and Prejudice Remix: Pride yet? Let me know in the comments below!

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was a really fantastic and captivating book, and one that I’m excited to have you share with your friends and family. You should read this book if you want to create space for young Mexican women to share their stories and to become a more emphathetic global citizen.

I Am Not Your Pefect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

Christmas is around the corner, and that means it’s gift giving season! The next couple of reviews I’m going to put up in the coming weeks are going to be part of my Christmas List — books that I think will make great gifts to your friends and family (or yourself! #TreatYoself) this holiday season. We’re kicking things off with this amazing Young Adult novel by Erika L. Sánchez. I’m probably never going to be too old for YA books, and I know my 14 year old self would have loved this one. I think your nieces, nephews, little sisters, brothers, and cousins will too!

Our narrator is the sixteen year old daughter of Mexican immigrants named Julia, and our story opens as she buries her older sister, Olga. Olga was killed in a tragic accident, and her death leaves more questions than answers for her younger sister. She discovers that there was more to her sister than met the eye, and that there was much she did not share with her. In the midst of searching for answers about her sister, Julia finds much more pain, much more secrets, and much more sorrow and sadness than she expected. She has always had a spirit of melancholy about her, but the loss of Olga deepens and darkens her spirit nearly to the breaking point.

This story deals with heavy topics like mental health, self-harm, and immigration with a deft hand. What is most exciting to me was that I don’t recall reading many books like this when I was in the YA demographic myself. But these stories are real, and they need to be told. The exceptional beauty of this novel, is that Sánchez tells it through the lens of a teenage Mexican girl whose parents are both “illegal” immigrants. Sidenote: I believe that no human is illegal. I don’t like to use the word “illegal,” but it comes up in the text so that is why it is presented here. Julia’s Latina heritage is presented in the text without bells and whistles and not as the butt of some joke. In fact, Sánchez does not even do a lot of work to explain it to us. Characters think and speak in Spanish often, and there is never any direct word-for-word translation; sometimes Julia translates the words/contexts for herself, and we are able to gain understanding from her thoughts. I love this kind of no qualms about it authenticity. Our hands are not held through the story like so many Americans want to be when they are introduced to a different culture.

We see Julia navigating her identity as both Mexican and American. She doesn’t know how to make tortillas to her mother’s standards, and she resents being forced to have a quinceanera. She even wants to go to school far from home in New York City. She is constantly fighting against her overbearing, overprotective mother who is quick to remind her that she’s nothing like Olga, her seemingly perfect dead sister. Yet when a white boy named Connor wants to come into her world, she is keenly aware of the differences in their lives from socio-economic class to culture. But when she goes back to her mother’s hometown in Mexico, she is wrapped in the loving embrace of her grandmother, Mamá Jacinta, and all her aunts and uncles, and she learns that she and her mother are much more alike than she thought.

In learning about her sister, Julia actually discovers, and learns to love, herself, even the ugly parts. This is a story about self-esteem and self-love as much as it is about culture and identity. We all have dark, gritty parts of ourselves that are easier to look away from than accept. Perhaps we can be more like Julia and, in loving ourselves more fully, find a way to achieve our dreams.

This book is actually a whopping 340 pages long. I didn’t anticipate it being this long, and in some ways the length was a bit much. It spans the course of two years, and I felt that it took a bit too long to reach the climax of the plot about Olga (or perhaps, I’m just interpreting the plot line wrong). However, I was very invested in the story by the time I started to realize I was still waiting for something that I thought should have already happened, so this was not difficult to overcome. Additionally, the pace at the end of the book really picks up, and the last 100 pages or so are very easy to get caught up in. Sánchez wraps the story up in a very satisfying way — no cliff hangers here! I’d recommend this book for readers 15+ due to language and themes.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was a really fantastic and captivating book, and one that I’m excited to have you share with your friends and family. You should read this book if you want to create space for young Mexican women to share their stories and to become a more emphathetic global citizen. Have you read it yet? Are you planning to make it a gift for someone? Let me know in the comments below!

Author Talk with Elle Jeffries

Elle Jeffries is a 2015 graduate of The Ohio State University. She received her Master’s in Education from the University of Maryland – College Park and has lived in the DC area for the last four years. She is the phenomenal author of deep condition and was recently kind enough to chat with me about the making of her debut novel. Keep reading for some spectacular insights on her personal story, how deep condition came to be, why she writes under a pseudonym, and her aspirations for the novel moving forward. Grab a snack and a cup of tea and check it out. 

Elle Jeffries is a 2015 graduate of The Ohio State University. She received her Master’s in Education from the University of Maryland – College Park and has lived in the DC area for the last four years. She is the phenomenal author of deep condition and was recently kind enough to chat with me about the making of her debut novel. Keep reading for some spectacular insights on her personal story, how deep condition came to be, why she writes under a pseudonym, and her aspirations for the novel moving forward. Grab a snack and a cup of tea and check it out.

The following transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Elle Jeffries:  I started writing around twelve. Initially it was little poems and musings. I actually point to Brown Sugar and “I Used to Love H.E.R.” by Common as like probably the main catalysts for me to start writing. I think I always had a way with words. I was a gifted student and in advanced classes. But I remember that movie and that song unlocking this new creative desire in me. So, I was like, “Oh, I want to write a poem!’ I think my first poem was about clouds or something. I just remember for the first time, when I listened to that Common song – you know we’d studied metaphors in school before, but that song really hit home for me, and I had a deep connection to it immediately. And I loved the film! Where you see Sydney and Dre’s relationship being this metaphor for hip hop .  It was like this lightbulb went off in my head. So, I started doing poetry and then writing short stories. It was initially on fan-fiction boards. I used to write a lot of silly short stories around like B2K and Chris Brown. When I got to high-school and early adulthood is when I started writing more mature material online on a number of different forums for most of my teens. Around 2014 is when I initially conceived the character that would become Nia, and in 2017 is when I came back to the story and revamped it for it to become deep condition.

LitBlkGrl: So at OSU were you doing education or English? What did you study?

EJ: I actually studied psychology. I’m sure, after reading the book, you could probably tell that I’m a counselor. But writing was always just something that I did on the side. I didn’t take it seriously ever. If you’d told me in 2015 that I would have published a book, I would have laughed. I never thought it was something that I would pursue seriously. I was just studying psych and preparing to go into a counseling career.

LBG: So, how did you go from “I would never think I’d publish a book” to “I’m publishing a book.”

EJ: You know it’s so funny. I don’t think there was a specific moment where the switch happened. I was really tired in graduate school. Throughout my entire program, I thought about quitting. It just took a lot out of me. I was not able to write. I was not able to connect to the creative side of myself. I feel like graduate school puts so many constraints around your thinking. You spend a lot of time reading and writing academic texts I feel like part of my brain was switched off for two years. Near the end of my second year, when I knew that the end was near, I started checking out, and checking out in graduate school allowed that other side of my brain to turn back on. I started writing again and sort of toiling the soil. I decided then that it would be “cute,” right, to publish this. So I started looking into it. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. The title was initially going to be “Brown Girls Don’t Break.” I had a book cover designer, but I didn’t know how I was going to publish it. I didn’t know how I was about to pay for all of this. I just knew that I wanted to do something, and really for myself. I didn’t think I was going to make any money off of it. I was not interested in any big rewards or accolades. I just wanted to put something out. I just started playing around with it. And then the longer I was in it, the more serious I got, and the more committed to it I became because I really started feeling like I had something worth sharing. It took a lot of time and commitment to myself and to my art. I had to have a lot of conversations with myself like, “You’re worth so much more than you give yourself credit for. Your work is good. It’s been good for a number of years. People have always given you amazing feedback. Let’s do this, let’s actually claim it.” So I did. Finally.

LBJ: You mentioned the cover art. I think that the cover art for deep condition is so beautiful. I want a poster of it. So, did you hire someone to make that or did you just find art that you liked, or what did you do?

EJ: Initially, the person I was going with ended up quitting on me last summer, and I asked her for recommendations. She recommended this guy in Ohio; I believe he’s out of Youngstown. We really developed it together. We had a few conversations on the phone. He asked me about the book; I sent him the prologue and a few other really important scenes in the book. He asked me what I was looking for, what the title of it was. He brought back the initial sketch, and her hair was too perfect. I made him give her a fro that wasn’t super circular. So, we did that; he added the orange pop of color behind her, and it was done. I mean it was really almost a one and done. It was not at all what I thought it would be, but it is by far the thing that makes people stop when they see me reading it. Or like, it’s the thing on social media that everyone is commenting on, “Oh my God, that cover is beautiful!” It’s striking. He did such a good job. His name is Tyler Evan Shaw. That’s his social media as well. We created something really beautiful. It’s our artwork. It’s all ours.

LBG: I’ve always judged books by their cover. My whole life, I would go to the library, and I would just look for things that caught my eye. And then I would read the cover jacket, but it has to, like, look interesting. I think that you did such an amazing job in the art tying together so many of the key facets of the book – about the Black woman and her hair. She has this reflective tone about herself… I just want the book to be on my night stand or my coffee table so that everybody can see it. You did yourself an amazing favor to make it also look beautiful, so kudos to ya’ll.

LBG: What authors have been influential to you? What about their work has spoken to you?

EJ: Super cliché, [but] Toni Morrison. The thing about Toni that I knew I was not going to replicate with my book is how complicated her narratives are. I wanted a book that could be read and received by a lot of people. I love Toni, but it does take me about 70-100 pages into her book to understand what the heck is going on. I did not want that for my story because I wanted people to make it past the first chapter! Jodi Picault – [a] white author. I have liked Jodi’s work since I was a teen because she deals with very sensitive topics. She’s not someone who’s going to shy away from the hard stuff. So, from like My Sister’s Keeper where you’re dealing with health and bodily autonomy, to this book that I just read called Small Great Things where she’s tackling white supremacy. As a white author writing about white supremacy and a Black female protagonist, [it] is like a really big task. My most recent discovery is Octavia Butler, who I’m super excited about. From her, I’d say risk taking. To even try to embark on sci-fi is incredible for Black women. And for it to be good! I just finished Parable of the Sower, and I was obsessed. Lastly, I’ve really started getting into West African writers. So Chimamanda, and Yaa Gyasi for Homegoing. From them, I get this feeling of this deep connection to culture, and a beautiful way of expressing that to people who have no connection to where they’re from and [are] still feeling the same emotions, the same desire to love and be loved. And the same longing too. I feel like they do a really good job of writing emotions.

LBG: What do you want for deep condition?

EJ: Where I am now is, I want to connect with people and build communities. Not only from the book itself, but around the ideas that the book introduces. In particular, narrative building and storytelling, and how we make sense of our world. And if we’re doing it in ways that harm us, heal us, or protect us. Which even in that protection, I think you have the ability to harm or heal again. Mental health is so important to me. It’s literally what I do every day. It’s what I’ve done for the last seven years since eighteen. It’s provided a foundation for me to build my sense of self on. It’s me as a whole being. My mental state not being separate from my physical state. I think if there’s anything I can do with this book, I just want to get to communities and just really start getting people to think about who they are as the sum of their parts. And if some of those parts are broken or cracked or a little blurry, like how can we go back and start unpacking some of those things and really getting people to be as close to whole as possible. From young women – I would love to work with teens up to college aged women and beyond. I want to have some dialogues and start getting people to do some storytelling and re-storytelling and learning.

I mean really what I want for the book — it would be great to sell a million of them, but I think it would be even more meaningful to me if I’m able to impact lives beyond the pages of the book.

LBG: I feel like those are all things that are very clearly articulated in the story that you tell in deep condition. Nia talks a lot about writing as healing, and when she starts teaching writing, she wants to provide a space for these kids to heal and work through the trauma of their day to day lives. I think the interesting thing for us as readers and reading Nia’s story is that we see – I said this in my review – how you’ve arranged the pieces of her together so closely that we have this idea of what she could be like if she were whole, if she were to fully commit to doing the work of dealing with her own pain and grief and her own history. I connected to the story a lot because I’ve also been dealing with my own mental health journey and recently started seeing a therapist. I think that you do a really great job connecting the mental to the physical in a way that so many people don’t necessarily consider. The state of your mind, of your spirit, is physically manifested. Those themes are so clearly presented, and I think the dialogue around them is going to be really impactful.

EJ: Yeah, I’m super excited. I’m working on two upcoming engagements, so we’ll see how they go. I also just want people to feel like this is accessible. I’ve had a number of folks just come up to me and say, “Oh my goodness, now that you’ve done this, I want to really be serious about starting this blog. Or really get this hair braiding thing off the ground, and really start investing.” Because when I tell people the number, the amount of money that I’ve had to put into myself and put into this project… I feel like we dream all day, but it takes putting some money behind something to be like, “I actually believe in myself!” because otherwise I would not be doing this! There were times where I was cutting checks, and I was like, “Sis this book better sell something!” But it’s just at a point now where I think people are also just inspired by the journey – an authentic journey too. Because I feel like we also see a lot of overnight successes on social media. But a lot of folks around me saw me doing the work. I think that’s accessible to a lot of people. And so, that’s been good too.

LBG: Why do you write under a pseudonym?

EJ: I did “Elle” because I really wanted to separate these two lives. Like in an ideal world, I’ll get to go to work every day and do what I love to do at night as well. I think that because writing was always so far fetched for me and  something that I did when I felt like it, now that it’s tangibly bound in a book, it’s like “You could actually do something more aligned with your creative instincts.” So when I decided to publish under Elle, it’s because I didn’t think I would even be that serious about this, and I would just have this writer life and have this work life. But it’s honestly shaken up my world because I’m really thinking a lot about all the things I’m excited about after work, and I’m not having that same joy from 9-5 every day. I decided to write under Elle to separate them.

LBG: So now do you feel like writing or a life or career path that’s more in line with your creative self is more accessible for you or is something that you want to see take up more of that 9-5 space in your life?

EJ: I think it still feels like a really big leap. It still feels like a huge risk. But it’s because I haven’t quite figured out what it looks like. I think once I get closer to identifying ways to merge these two worlds. And there is a way to do it; I feel like I’m so close. Everyone keeps saying to me, “You’re not close. You’re there already. You just need to spend some quiet time reflecting.” I’ve done everything. I taught poetry years ago. I’ve done this counseling thing; I’ve worked in admissions. I’ve done a lot in education, and so now I’m getting to this point where I’m really thinking about in the next two years transitioning to something completely different. I think that might be the space for me to start figuring out how to bring more creativity into my work. The other thing is, I want to honor the process of creativity, and I don’t think it is an on-demand thing. So I don’t want to go too far into the weeds to where my creativity pays my bills. That’s not what I want either. I don’t want anything where it loses its intrinsic value. That’s why I’ve always been very reluctant about writing full time or doing something like that because I don’t want writing to lose its intrinsic value as something that I just love for the sake of loving it. I don’t want to rely on it as my sole career because then I could find myself hating something that I loved out of pure, genuine curiosity. That’s where my battle always comes in – my internal battle.

LBG: It’s really interesting to also think about art for art’s sake because I think so much of the time we get away from that, “Oh I do this because I really love it, not because I have to and I need to make my rent this month but because I like love it.” I think that’s definitely something that as artists we need to honor more.

LBG: So how did you come up with the character of Nia?

EJ: I started writing her story initially in 2014. I had a really hard junior year at Ohio State. Twenty-first and beyond was just a challenging year. So it was kind of a perfect storm. That happened and then Dear White People came out. And I remember for like the first time in college having this really interesting film to talk about the experiences of Black folks who are my age, like right there. It wasn’t A Different World, it wasn’t School Daze. It was like all of a sudden there was this movie with all of these interesting characters that everyone wanted to talk about. I remember I got to meet some of the cast; we had special screenings. I was on a panel. I was also thinking about the experience of Black women in college at the same time. I decided to write Nia sort of as an extension of me. [I thought] it would be interesting to write this super headstrong character who is dealing with her trauma in ways different from mine. So initially, Nia was a lot louder. She became very muted and quiet in this version of deep condition – not muted, but more quiet. And I think it’s because of where I am in my life. Sometimes I feel like my characters start to sound a lot more like me. But back then though, I wanted to be like, ok, let’s see if I can make her loud. She’s angry. She’s lashing out. So, she was a very different character back then. Over time, with my own development, I’m like, “How would somebody actually respond to a trauma like this? How would they interact with the men in their lives?” She’s like a baby! I’ve watched her grow. The initial story started when she was 22. I was like I need to start this earlier. I want to talk about why Nia is the way she is by 22, so I started earlier. I also was thinking about characters like Issa and Mary Jane. With Issa, we meet this woman who’s like 29. She doesn’t seem to be in the job that she enjoys but went to college. Mary Jane, she’s in her early 30s; she’s angry. I feel like there’s all these pre-chapters that we don’t get with Black female characters. It’s like, “Why are you like this?” What is this? You’re 29 making all these mistakes I’m making at 23!

LBG: I would love to know why Issa is the way that Issa is!

EJ: Like what is this about? Molly as well. So, I wanted to write a younger Black female character and have her kind of journey over time. So that people can see that she’s similar from one thing to the next, like how she’s always running away from issues. But then, how does she change? She becomes much more risky near the end. I just needed to see some sort of development. I was like, “I don’t want to write about a year in her life.” I really want to show how she changes or doesn’t change based on seasons, etc. over time.

LBG: I really appreciate that. I hadn’t considered Nia as compared to other Black female characters. I think that so me we are dropped into their lives without any sort of pre-history. Like we meet Molly’s parents, eventually. I don’t think we’ve ever met Issa’s parents though. We learn about Molly’s parents’ relationship, so we can connect the dots with that and her and Dro. But why the heck is Issa like 30 and still tripping this hard? Can we learn about her childhood traumas? Can we unpack this a little bit so we can understand? Nia’s journey is not as jarring because we have followed her from college into adulthood. So, we like understand, like hey, she’s been like this forever. We know how Nia does with men. We know. That’s a really insightful path to take. That’s cool. Thank you.

LBG: Is there anything else you want to add? Anything else you want to say? Anything else you want anyone to know?

EJ: One of the things that we got to talk about at my launch too is that one of the biggest pieces for this, is that there are universal human elements. My editor asked me at the launch, “How do you want non-Black people to interact with this book?” I said, you know, at the end of the day, it is a story about a Black woman written by a Black author. There are parts of that experience that you could feel sympathy for, but you just genuinely won’t be able to empathize with. I mean, her falling potentially into what felt like a depression after watching Jacob be brutalized. Those are things that young Black people, young Black millennials are facing right now. I’m getting second hand trauma from scrolling on Facebook a lot. I think those are pieces that are definitely unique to, I think, experiences of Black and Brown people in America. But there are other parts of the story that have a lot of universality. Like mental health, trauma, abandonment, being in jobs that don’t feel like they’re serving you, that you’re jaded by. So, I would hope that people wouldn’t be discouraged by this very brown, very proud Black woman on the cover of the book, and that they’d be interested to learn more about her experience and how they can connect with her.

deep condition

deep condition is Elle Jeffries’ debut novel, and her future is very bright if this is any indication. This is a story about a woman struggling to come into her own, and find her own voice, in the midst of dealing with significant personal trauma. The way she attempts to do this is through writing. Our narrator says, “Writing can heal” (pg.154), and this story is an example. 

deep condition by Elle Jeffries

deep condition is Elle Jeffries’ debut novel, and her future is very bright if this is any indication. This is a story about a woman struggling to come into her own, and find her own voice, in the midst of dealing with significant personal trauma. The way she attempts to do this is through writing. Our narrator says, “Writing can heal” (pg.154), and this story is an example.

This book read like jazz — in fact, I’m listening to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme right now to stay in the spirit of the novel as I write. Interestingly, Elle’s main character and narrator, Nia, is a writer, and the two of them have a deeply poetic sensibility in the way that they use words. Our author has created a character who is deeply fractured, yet has put the pieces together just so; we are able to see Nia’s infinite potential if she were to commit to doing the work to become whole herself. Nia’s characterization is melded through her relationship with her own hair. It is cut off when she needs a new beginning. It grows dry and brittle as a physical indicator of her personal self-neglect. It’s healthy and supple when she’s putting in the self-work needed for healing. Nia is intensely complex. She knows writing is the medium through which she is able to be the most honest and tell her stories. She recognizes the power in that: “I think there’s power in the story, but there’s also power in learning how to tell the story — in being the story teller…” (pg. 159). This line reminded me of a quote from Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon, “All these words from the seller, but not one word from the sold” (Hurston). It’s so important to see a Black woman crafting the way her story, and the stories of other Black women, are told.

What’s striking to me about Nia is that she is aware of the power of being honest in her truth, in telling her stories, but she so often refuses to do that in her relationships out of fear of being abandoned. Even after it costs her the love of her life, Quentin, she almosts loses her next significant relationship out of this stubborn reluctance to be bare with men. She also seems unwilling to commit to the hard work of healing; she had a good experience with therapy in college, and her hair reaped the benefits of her finally taking care of herself. But after college was over, it doesn’t seem that she ever went back, choosing instead to compartmentalize and box away the emotions and pain — the grief — that she was experiencing daily.

The story follows Nia as she enters Monroe University as a journalism major and follows her through her experiences there and after she graduates and enters into the DC journalism world. At Monroe, she starts a online publication called Brown Girl, where she writes and publishes stories of Black women on her campus. Brown Girl came to be after By Any Means, the magazine started by Quentin that drew her to Monroe in the first place, refused to publish a story about a Black girl who had been raped on campus. Quentin told Nia that this story wasn’t about race, and therefore didn’t have a place at By Any Means. Which raised a question for me about why Black men are so often unaware of Black women’s intersectionality but are so keenly aware of their own? To be Black and male is clear in its implications for most Black men; why are the implications of Black femininity not so?

An aspect of this novel that I especially enjoyed was the voice of the narrator. Nia often waxes poetic in really beautiful ways.  Although it sometimes feels like the characters speak as if they’re aware that they’re characters in a book — for example, “Thanks for being my wings on days when I’m too afraid to fly” (pg. 55) — it never hinders the experience of the book. In fact, wouldn’t life be more wonderful if we all spoke to one another this way? I loved lines like, “Although she wasn’t sure if it were a figment of her imagination or the sound of a mother’s broken heart beating with irregularity. Either way, she missed him like she missed her unborn child” (pg. 163). Or, further down on the same page, “Life sounded like pen to paper. Life sounded like story.” The language of the text crafts this beautiful world out of pieces of heartbreak and deep sadness. In the midst of everything, there is still life worth living.

deep condition is both noun and verb. It is both “the state of being black,” and an act of “self-preservation” (Jeffries). It is “an experience of self that is shaped by pigment and history” and it is to “engage in a preventative hair maintenance routine” (Jeffries). A dense book, only 170 pages, takes us on a journey of self-love and learning to walk in the power of refusing to silence one’s own voice. You should read this book if you want to continue to amplify and be an ear to Black women’s stories. We matter.

Disclaimer: A copy of deep condition was provided to me by the author. This in no way shaped or influenced by review.