Rating: 4/5 stars
The second book in the Black Girls Must Die Exhausted series, Black Girls Must Be Magic, takes you on Tabitha’s journey as she experiences life as a pregnant woman. She balances her career, her on-and-off-again romantic relationship, her doctor’s appointments, and her friendships, all while trying to figure out who she truly is.
When an unexpected development occurs with her pregnancy that has Marc, her ex-boyfriend, getting more involved, Tabby is forced to rethink her expectations about what family means. Is it those that are blood related to you? Is it those that become involved by accident? Or is it those who show up for you, time and time again, when you need them most?
The book explores the nuances of motherhood as Tabby learns to navigate it on her own terms, creating an introspective reflection on womanhood, friendship, family, and the practice of listening to your inner voice.
Reading this book was like a breath of fresh air. Jayne Allen is great at writing in a way that infuses emotion into each and every one of her characters. This grabbed my attention instantly and made me invested in each of their stories in addition to Tabby’s.
The strongest point of the novel is Allen’s inclusion of the in-between moments Tabby goes through as she learns how to listen to herself. We see the trial and error she moves through as she practices listening to her inner voice. Whether it’s about her pregnancy, her relationships, or how she shows up each day, that voice is there to guide her deep down.
As she slowly starts making decisions to honor that voice more, her transition happens how it would in real life: slow, full of falling in and out of old habits, but powerfully transformative. But it’s not about the end result: Tabby is a fully fleshed out, realized character even as she makes mistakes and navigates this in-between. It results in a touching commentary on the messiness of life, and how it’s seldom a straight path as you learn how to express yourself. Every woman in her 20s or 30s who would like to read about contemporary issues that pertain to being a woman should read Black Girls Must Be Magic.
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