I have been a fan of Issa Rae’s since Awkward Black Girl was still only a series on YouTube. I was super excited about seeing her growth and have been tuning in to all of her projects whenever I get the chance. I first learned about her book a while ago, but I finally bought it recently and sat down to read it. Much like everything else that Issa Rae produces, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Here’s the blurb:
In this universally accessible New York Times bestseller named for her wildly popular web series, Issa Rae—“a singular voice with the verve and vivacity of uncorked champagne” (Kirkus Reviews)—waxes humorously on what it’s like to be unabashedly awkward in a world that regards introverts as hapless misfits and black as cool.
“I’m awkward—and black. Someone once told me those were the two worst things anyone could be. That someone was right. Where do I start?”
Being an introvert (as well as “funny,” according to the Los Angeles Times) in a world that glorifies cool isn’t easy. But when Issa Rae, the creator of the Shorty Award-winning hit series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, is that introvert—whether she’s navigating love, the workplace, friendships, or “rapping”—it sure is entertaining. Now, in this New York Times bestselling debut collection written in her witty and self-deprecating voice, Rae covers everything from cybersexing in the early days of the Internet to deflecting unsolicited comments on weight gain, from navigating the perils of eating out alone and public displays of affection to learning to accept yourself—natural hair and all.
In this book, Issa takes us through various stages of her life and showed how each stage contributed to who she is as a person now. As I was reading, I could clearly imagine hearing Issa’s voice and seeing her in each of the scenarios she described. Her voice is very relatable, which is why I became hooked on Awkward Black Girl in the first place. The title alone is the story of my life.
There were a couple of essays that didn’t hold my interest. Also, the timeline could be a little confusing for me because the essays aren’t ordered chronologically. In the first essay, she’s in middle school. The next one is set at a totally different time and location in her life, and at times, it was hard to keep up because she traveled and moved a lot during her childhood. It would have been easier for me to follow along if the essays had been organized differently. Aside from those things, there was more that I liked than disliked.
I most enjoyed the stories she shared about her father. There were some very intimate moments that I feel a lot of people can relate to, yet don’t always feel comfortable with sharing about their family life, but she put it out there for us to consume. Her perspective on some of her family troubles and relationships made me reflect on my own experiences and also reminded me of why I appreciate Issa’s work. I didn’t go into this book expecting inspiring or life-altering material, though I believe many readers can find both in several parts of the book. Instead, I went into and came out of the book with exactly what I was expecting, which is something and someone I could relate to. I laughed at some parts. I was somber while reading other parts. I felt things, which is what I expect any good book to make me do. I give it a 4 out of 5.