“The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” by Issa Rae

Issa Rae’s The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl is just that — frequently funny with encounters about her preteens years and how she made it in college as a well-oriented black girl. We learn about her former insecurities about her blackness and her mistrials of trying to make it as the “cool kid” she finally becomes in college — at least part of herself does as she gains popularity in the boy’s department and learns about music.  Sheltered as a child, she wasn’t allowed to get anything without a parental advisory sticker on it, inhibiting her sexual knowledge and also her ability to flash her proficiency in the music her friends so heavily associated with being black.

The title of the book is not only about her awkwardness but an honorable mention for her well-received web series by the same name: The Misadventures of ABG. She creates the series during an unlucky streak she hits in New York before realizing that she needed to figure out her purpose and moved to L.A. to bring her idea for the series to life. The series was a huge success that took off her career, although we hear little about it. However, she goes into some detail about her prior successes into adulthood that were anything but small. At 11 years old, her script was picked up by The Cosby Show to air.

The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl was heartily humored and decently displayed the indecency of her character as she struggled to find herself. It is more of a trip down memory lane than a book that leaves you with some serious advice. The advice she does give feels trivial as she fills up the pages on how to approach the many “different types of blacks” she divides into subcategories. She gives examples such as the “Awkward Black” and the “Strong Black,” and she either sympathizes with them or doesn’t.  In my opinion, her advice felt too subjective and was hardly anything we could gain any real value from. In this way, the book fell short.

However, the book was an honest representation of her coming to terms with herself as an “awkward black girl,” a phrase which here finalizes her lifelong desire to be the idolized version of the misrepresented black girl (the one who doesn’t get as much attention in the media). On more than one occasion, she mentions her desire to put an end to social stigmas and the stereotypes we see on television, which she finally comes to realize she had to resolve within herself too. We can see here why she does the work she does, as it was something that was always the center of her attention. Here story is a coming-of-age story built on bravery, and if you brave it through, it is sure to get some laughs out of you.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
Author: Issa Rae
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: July 2016

Contributor: Shelly Lora is an aspiring writer and novel reader.

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