The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae – Book Review

I’ve put off writing this review for far too long – because I did and didn’t love this book, and I’ve been struggling to put that into words.

I really enjoy reading books/memoirs/essays by funny people, especially women.  I’ve loved Bossypants, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and Yes, Please!  I read The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Jo-Issa Rae Diop through NetGalley, anticipating that it would be along those lines, and it was.  The tricky part is that I was not previously familiar with Issa Rae’s work, so I didn’t read it to myself in her voice, and I probably missed out for that.  However, now I’ve heard of her, and that’s a good thing.

I was uncomfortable at times, but it felt really good to have my perspective stretched – when I was rendered most awkward (perhaps it was all part of her plan!!) was when I was reading some of her stories that were farthest from my own experiences.  The ABG Guides, especially Types of Black People and Connecting with Other Blacks did not resonate for me and seemed out of place, but I might not be the target audience.

However, awkward crosses those racial lines, and while no one has ever expected me to be a great dancer, I found a lot to identify with and laugh about.  I most enjoyed the stories about her life, and she really captures some of the most awkward phases of growing up very well.  She nails being introverted, female, overweight, and awkward, but she also seems so cool now that I almost have my doubts that she was as awkward as she portrays.  I longed for a more coherent story arc through the book, however, as the essays skip around and don’t build to any real conclusions.  Issa Rae’s writing was conversational and easy to read, but sometimes repetitive and disorganized.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading strong, funny women – I don’t think Issa Rae has as strong a voice yet as Tina Fey or Amy Poehler, but I think she’s on her way.

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