An illustration of a book with the title, "Black Girls Must Die Exhausted"

A Literary Review of ‘Black Girls Must Die Exhausted’

A story of struggle, the novel showcases the resilience of three friends as they navigate life as Black women.

“Black Girls Must Die Exhausted” is the first novel in the trilogy written by Jayne Allen. This novel showcases the complex struggles that Black women face on a daily basis. The story centers around Tabitha Walker. Tabby has it all. The perfect career. The handsome and successful boyfriend. Even the perfect credit score. However, when Tab learns that her chances of having the perfect family could be slim to none due to a diagnosis of  Premature Ovarian Reserve Failure, a disorder caused by stress, she begins to contemplate her life. She realizes that she has to make life less stressful. However, between work, her boyfriend, parental drama and her impeding fear of police brutality, she finds this more difficult than she anticipated.

Friendship is key in this novel, and the relationship between Tabitha and her best friends, Alexis and Laila, is hilarious and heartwarming. Alexis is married to her high school sweetheart, Rob, and has a family. On the surface, it seems as though Alexis has the perfect marriage. As the story progresses, the reader learns that Alexis’s husband has cheated on her numerous times. Rob tries to make up for his infidelity by buying Alexis expensive gifts, such as a Mercedes Benz, but Tabitha and Lalia see right through his BS and dislike him for how he treats their friend. While Alexis deals with her marital woes, Laila has problems of her own: she unexpectedly becomes pregnant, and she must decide whether to keep the unwanted pregnancy or terminate it.

While many decisions are being made by the characters in the story, one thread transcends throughout the novel: overcoming. Each Black female character in the novel has to overcome an obstacle or challenge. For Tabitha, it is being overlooked intersectionally at work and dealing with infertility, strained friendships, unfulfilling relationships, broken familial relationships and the rational fear of experiencing police brutality. Tabitha overcomes her obstacles by reconnecting with her best friends, repairing her relationship with her dad and his side and kids, and reinventing how she conducts herself at work.

Each key character in the novel goes through a sort of metamorphosis throughout the novel in order to become the epitome of the “Strong Black Female” stereotype. Thus, cues in the title of the novel. “Black Girls Must Die Exhausted” expresses the feeling most would have upon learning of the daily struggles that Black women go through. Not only do Black women deal with familial, work and societal issues, but they also have to deal with the fear of being shot dead just because she is black. Tabitha and her friends struggle to meet the expectations set by society.

Overall, this novel is extremely well-written and well-paced. I also really enjoyed the stylistic choices in terms of writing. I feel that each character is well-developed and adds to the overall theme of the story. Allen does a great job of showcasing the struggles of Black women through her black female characters. From infidelity to infertility, Black women’s voices are showcased throughout this novel. By realizing the struggles that many Black women face, readers can relate to them as a whole and sympathize with them.

Erica George, Louisiana State University, Shreveport

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Erica George

Louisiana State University, Shreveport
English, Literary Studies Concentration

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