Book Review: Black Girls Must Be Magic by Jayne Allen

Tabitha Walker is navigating the challenges of her pregnancy, relationship, and self-identity. Her initial plan of being a “single mother by choice” doesn’t go the way she wants when she discovers some new information concerning her pregnancy. Amidst all this Tabitha is also grappling with her image as a black woman on television, and the problems that affect only her as the only black person at the station.

I enjoyed the lightness of the book. The story is about the problems a black successful woman faces, professionally and personally, but without being depressing. It reflects reality but does not leave the reader with a desperate need to escape the weight of the unending issues that black people have to deal with. The story also celebrates black women’s resilience and strength through the most trying times, as well as sisterhood, identity and self-love.

It’s a simple story, with some parts that fall a little flat. However, Tabitha is everywhere and her problems are faced by many black women all over the world. The questioning of our image, especially our hair which is a sensitive topic, is an important theme explored in the novel.

The story also explores the way society expects women to follow a particular path when it comes to having children – to get married and have kids. Single parenthood is treated as a crime committed by the mother.

The title is strong and intriguing, maybe more powerful than the actual story. The plot is straightforward, and it’s an easy and quick read.

Chimeka Garricks Tugs at Our Heartstrings with ‘A Broken People’s Playlist’

“The boy would die, not understanding his death was a grim godsend to this police anti-robbery team – another chance to stat-pad the number of robberies they claimed to have solved.”

In The City

If you’ve heard any of the songs that inspired the short stories in this collection, you’ll appreciate the depth of their stories even more. However, you don’t need the music to realise the power in the stories.

As a die-hard Nina Simone fan, the sixth story I Put a Spell on You stood out for me from the list and that was the one I read first. It wasn’t just the story itself I found hilarious and captivating, but the language itself, characters throwing in pidgin English, had me falling about.

If you start with the funniest one like I did, you’ll see how some of the stories become more of tearing up than knee-slapping. In a beautiful way, though. When Garrick writes about loss, he knows how to include the reader in that moment of grief. When he writes about corruption, he creates a vivid image of those illicit exchanges.

A best friend lost in the chaos of confras, a true love lost on his way to officially be with the love of his life. When the black sheep of the family doesn’t have long to live and throws a living funeral, his brother and ex-wife take us with them through their turbulent emotions.

The stories bring the everyday stories of Nigeria to life, raw, tender, and blatant. It’s short, with only twelve stories and like me, you will gobble it down in a single day (night) like I did. You’ll have the stories stuck in your head like your favourite songs.