Genre: Adult Literary Suspense
Year Release: 2021
Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: Microaggressions, racism, stalking, kidnapping
A new co-worker in the office tends to be exciting. When another Black girl arrives and Nella Rogers is no longer the only Black girl her at her company, strange things begin to happen. Mysterious notes and cryptic texts telling her to leave Wagner send Nella in a spiral that could unravel the fabric of reality itself.
Excellent in its twists, and takes its sweet time establishing understanding, The Other Black Girl interrogates the publishing infrastructure for its lack of diversity while also introducing dread and menace in a tightly woven mystery.
If this has been pitched to you as Get Out meets The Stepford Wives but make it publishing, you’ve got an accurate description of this book.
I’ve seen reviews complaining that the beginning might be a little slow, but it is so, so necessary in understanding the environment of the book. If you thought you knew office politics, publishing has a whole other set of caveats. It’s apparent this was written by someone who used to be the industry. Moreover, the establishment of the unfortunate status quo sets up the rest of the novel. The dread enters as soon as we know normal.
The craftwork of this novel is also incredibly tight. No details gets unused. The reader figures things out at the same time that Nella does, which make the reveals land so much harder when awful hunches become confirmed truths. The pacing works on a similar level. Both the reader and Nella float on waves of relief and stress and of understanding and confusion in a way that makes it hard to put this book down.
One of my favorite parts was Nella’s relationship with Malaika. It’s nice to see a main character have support and friendship in a story like this. Which makes the ending so much more chilling (and that’s all I’ll say about that). It also establishes an alarming sense of scale to the threat that’s hunting Nella, which only builds additional layers of dread.