“Black girls must die exhausted” is something that 33-year-old Tabitha Walker has heard her grandmother say before. Of course, her grandmother (who happens to be white) was referring to the 1950’s and what she observed in the nascent times of civil rights. With a coveted position as a local news reporter, Marc-- a “paper-perfect” boyfriend, and a standing Saturday morning appointment with a reliable hairstylist, Tabitha never imagined how this phrase could apply to her as a black girl in contemporary times – until everything changed. An unexpected doctor’s diagnosis awakens Tabitha to an unperceived culprit, threatening the one thing that has always mattered most - having a family of her own. Stress has caused a premature burnout of Tabitha’s egg reserve, and time is running out on her options to become a wife and mother. With the help of her best friends, the irreverent and headstrong Laila and Alexis, the former “Sexy Lexi," Tabitha must explore the reaches of modern medicine and test the limits of her relationships to beat the ticking clock on her dreams of becoming a wife and mother. She must leverage the power of laughter, love, and courageous self-care to bring a healing stronger than she ever imagined - before the phrase “black girls must die exhausted” takes on a new and unwanted meaning in her own life.
Plot: In this book, Allen crafts an engaging and evenly plotted story of a woman who, after learning that she has only a limited window in which to have children, evaluates her relationships and personal aspirations. Allen explores themes of racial prejudice, infidelity, and family dynamics in this voice-driven work.
Prose: Despite moments of flat narration, the author writes with clarity and immediacy throughout the novel.
Originality: The protagonist faces a unique dilemma, and Allen explores her uncertainty about having a child with sensitivity and maturity. The focus on systemic prejudice provides a welcome layer of complexity to the plot.
Character Development: While protagonist Tabitha’s emotions and psychological states are often overtly stated rather than organically explored, readers will readily connect with her search for fulfillment on her journey of self-discovery. Secondary characters, including Tabitha’s close female friends and reluctant-to-commit boyfriend, do not gain significant development beyond their dialogue.
Date Submitted: August 23, 2018
"Allen writes in a sharp, lively voice that is full of warmth and humor...Tabitha and her friends are well-drawn, and it is the dynamic between the protagonist and the women in her life that propels the story. Touching on issues of professional womanhood, race, and family, the author crafts a novel that is both timely and enjoyable." - Kirkus Reviews