Review: "Bitch Is The New Black" rocked my world

You had to have been living under a rock over the last several months if you didn't catch the media’s obsession with letting the world know that black women are undesirable. If so, I submit Exhibits A, B, C, D, EZ – and I’ll stop there even though there’s much much more. Well, in the midst of this ridiculous craze, a young woman named Helena Andrews made the spotlight. A single, educated, successful and attractive woman, she was featured in a Washington Post article about her, then, upcoming memoir entitled Bitch Is The New Black (aka #BITNB). The article focuses on Andrews’ life as a young black woman dating in DC and the frustrations that many like her feel trying to meet suitable companions in the city. While the article was interesting, it didn’t do the book justice. I couldn’t be happier that I stepped out of my used-books-only (or-seriously-discounted-bookstore-books-only) norm and ordered myself a copy. I read the book over the course of two days because I couldn't put it down. I absolutely loved it, and let me tell you why.

Her wit is razor sharp and her writing style is engaging.

He’s the Nigerian E-mail Scam of ex-sorta-boyfriends, trying to seduce me over cyberspace with promises of riches in the real world. Problem is, I’m black and I have a vagina, so my Waiting to Exhale intuition tells me this shit ain’t for real.
The memoir is a collection of 16 essays with titles such as ”Perfect Girl” and Other Curse Words and Riding in Cars with Lesbians. Nuff said right? It gets better, though. Andrews uses each of these essays to chronicle her past, smoothly jumping back and forth in time in many of them. She gives us insight into everything from her childhood to her professional endeavors post graduate school. She has a really intriguing childhood growing up with a lesbian mother who made them move around quite a bit and an even more interesting adult life filled with dating trials and tribulations, a friend/line sister who commits suicide, a best friend on the west coast, and a blossoming career in DC.

Her mother is awesome.

See, Frances does this. We’ll be talking about something FCC-approved for mothers and daughters, like, say, vaginal itch, and she’ll bust in like the emergency broadcasting system with a ‘What kind of birth control do you use’ or and ‘I’ve been celibate for almost a decade’ or an ‘Oh, so you two are just fuck buddies then. Beeeeeeep goes the filial flat line. Dead. She’s got mommy Tourette’s.
Simply put: Frances, Andrews’ mother, is awesome. Not more awesome than mine, of course. But on a scale for non-my-mothers, she hits the top. Beside the fact that she calls her daughter “little brown eyed girl” – my mommy calls me “precious” *smile* – she’s just an amazing fun-loving woman pulling Andrews through a childhood filled with unpredictable turns while working hard to raise her the best way she knows how.

She’s me. At the very least, she’s like my BFF.

I don’t feel almost twenty-eight. Not an actual adult, I’m more adult-ish. See, I’m just a girl. An awesome one, of course, but just one. And like so many other little brown girls my age, I believe the problem of loving, lusting, or even “liking liking" someone can be solved with a simple equation: x + y = gtfohwtbs (if “x” ≥ 28 years old and “y” = socially retarded men).
I connected to Helena like she was a new girlfriend telling me her story over sushi and way too many bottles of Riesling. She laughs. She curses. She complains. She gets excited. She struggles. She seeks love while still holding onto pieces of relationships that aren’t worth more than a penny. She’s a twenty-something. She’s me.

It was so exhilarating for me to read a candid and completely relatable memoir written by someone not much older than me. It’s like being in eighth grade and listening to the older kids talk about their daily lives, both in junior high and high school. You listen to the joys, the heartache, the triumphs with excitement for times to come while wondering how to avoid the future heartbreaks that are inevitable.

She and her best friend are hilarious.

‘Dude, what is your life about!?’ quizzes Gina every morning over IM like the opening bell of a boxing match, startling me into the ring of another Monday. The alarm to starting the day off single.
Frequent use of DUUUDE! and play by play accounts of online IM chats and texts with her BFF and various guys were enough to make me giggle like a little girl. My daily gchat convos with @Ladiee_D have not been the same since we put this book down. A convo just doesn't feel right without at least one use of the word. What did we ever say before to express our feelings? "Dude" just seems so much more fitting now for every situation.

She’s real.

I don't think Michelle [Obama:] minds bein our new muse. I think she gets it. We little brown girls - drunk off The Cosby Show, sobered up by life, and a little suicidal - we need her.
I love how willingly she shares her imperfections. In an effort to tell her life story she provides the reader with a view into her mind and allows us to laugh with her as she reflects on her moments of insanity, pain, confusion and joy. To judge her would be to judge both my current and my future selves. She makes mistakes, deals with broken hearts horribly, has terrible days and denies her need to emotionally release all while cherishing her family, friends and dog and living life as best she knows how. All of these things I know too well (except the dog part).

After all, isn’t that what the twenties are about? If not, then I guess I’m doing it wrong.


Helena Andrews is currently working with Shonda Rhimes, creater of my favorite TV show Grey's Anatomy, on the film adaptation of the book. I can't wait to see it!

1 Comments:

Cidokogi | July 10, 2010 at 12:32 PM

I really need to get my hands on this book!

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