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Review: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

Issa RaeMy name is “J” and 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 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, work, friendships, or “rapping”—it sure is entertaining. Now, in this debut collection of essays 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.


Insecure is one of my favorite TV Shows.The show is how I came to know Issa Rae. I have since watched some of her YouTube series such as First. Needless to say, I was delighted to finally get the opportunity to read this book.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is a collection of essays from Issa’s life. My favorite essay was about natural hair. Issa’s hair stood out to me when I first saw her. In Insecure, she has natural hair and her hairstyles are so diverse. I always look forward to seeing what she comes up with.

My hair

My afro and in one pic, I have locks

As a lover of natural hair, I liked her discussion about how black/African natural hair is perceived and the pressure to have permed/straightened hair. I used to have straightened hair all the way to my undergrad years in Uni. It was what most people had then and honestly, it was easy to maintain.  I first cut my hair after Uni. After that, I have had numerous haircuts, my relationship with my hair has always been complicated. In 2015, I got into trouble at work because of the dreadlocks that I had then; apparently, dreadlocks aren’t professional or Christian (Yes, natural hair critics are active in Africa too). I ended up losing the locks and growing this crazy, huge 60s afro that muted everyone, haha. Now I have dreadlocks again and seem to be getting away with it. Maybe the world is changing and there is more acceptance of African natural hair.  I am definitely glad to see more women embracing their natural crowns though.I won’t lie, I was so happy when I first saw Doria Ragland (Meghan’s Markel’s mother) in dreadlocks.

Doria Ragnald

Doria Ragnald and her daughter, Meghan Markel.  Both ladies have beautiful hair 🙂

Bottom line, women should be able to choose whatever hairstyle they want. Whether natural, weaves, braids, afros, dreadlocks. Nobody should be judged especially for loving their own hair. Seriously, the world has enough issues as it is. Let the hair be!

Someone needs to update Google though because when you search ‘professional or neat hairstyles’, the results tell a different story.

“The hair hierarchy rates worth by length and texture of hair. The longer, the silkier and more European your hair, the higher your worth. The shorter, kinkier, and more African your hair? Kill thyself.” ― Issa Rae, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl  

There was another essay titled ‘African dad’ that left me with mixed feelings. First of all, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Issa is half Senegalese and in touch with her African heritage. Go sis! This particular essay was raw and heartbreaking. However, the title did bug me. Issa’s parents divorced because of her father’s infidelity which was hinted to be something about his culture.Islamic, Sharia, Laws allow polygamy and Senegal is a Muslim state. The same culture might be reflected in other parts of Africa or other continents especially in countries that are predominantly Islam. So I felt like some generalization took place with the title. Africa is diverse and honestly, African culture isn’t really a thing. Different countries, tribes, communities have their own cultural beliefs. We don’t even have Kenyan culture because of how different the communities are.  Minor issue and I might have interpreted it wrongly but I do get a bit defensive by the generalization that is sometimes applied to Africa.

Halfrican is another essay that I enjoyed. I loved learning more about Senegalese culture and how this impacted on Issa and her family. I also enjoyed reading about her visits to Senegal.




There is so much that I can say about this memoir/ collection of essays. I really enjoyed Issa’s stories and she had me laughing a couple of times. Issa is an inspiring, funny, talented, gorgeous woman and it was an absolute pleasure to get to know her better. I definitely recommend this title to fans of memoirs and to everyone who has ever gone through an awkward phase.

“I don’t want to die alone, but spending quality time with myself 60 to 70 percent of the day is my idea of mecca
― Issa Rae,  The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl


About Issa Rae

Issa hair

With her own unique flare and infectious sense of humor, Issa Rae’s content has garnered over 20 million views and close to 160,000 subscribers on YouTube. In addition to making the Forbes 30 Under 30 list twice and winning the 2012 Shorty Award for Best Web Show for her hit series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” Issa Rae has worked on web content for Pharrell Williams, Tracey Edmonds and numerous others. She developed a TV series with Shonda Rhimes for ABC and a half-hour comedy for HBO with Larry Wilmore.


About Natural Hair

I thought it would be good to add this section. Extract is from Live About.

Natural hair is hair whose texture hasn’t been altered by chemical straighteners, including relaxers and texturizers. An Afro hairstyle is sometimes referred to as “a natural,” but natural black hair can be worn in many other styles besides a short ‘fro.

Natural black hair usually ranges from wavy to kinky-coily, with a wide range of variation between the two. (And yes, some black people have naturally straight hair as well.) Most people of African descent have some type of wave or curl pattern, and texture differences exist not only in families, including siblings but on the same head of hair! Curls may be as small and coiled as pen springs or wavier and the size of a fat marker. In general, black hair types tend to be:

Drier to the touch than other hair textures

Extremely difficult to over-condition



28 comments on “Review: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

  1. Inge | The Belgian Reviewer
    October 30, 2018

    Ha I love that quote, so true! It’s crazy there’s so much to do about a hairstyle.. I have to say that men wearing dreadlocks aren’t regarded very highly here either.. but I think the women get much more approval. I think they’re more tolerating about hairstyles here, which is something I’d never expected. Great review Diana!

    • Diana
      October 30, 2018

      There is a negative stereotype about men in dreads here too. There are companies that allow staff to wear whatever they want, Jeans, T-Shirts etc but they would never hire a dreadlocked guy for any formal positions. Doesn’t matter how qualified a guy is. For whatever reason, they are perceived as ‘thugish’. As you said, its crazy that there is so much going on about hairstyles.

      Thanks Inge 🙂

  2. jennifertarheelreader
    October 30, 2018

    I love this personal and insightful review, Diana! I’m sure it varies in the US, depending upon where you are, or even where you work, but where I work, hairstyles are always changing, and no one seems to mind. I definitely understand it’s not like that everywhere. These essays sound engaging and informative. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. ♥️

    • Diana
      October 31, 2018

      You’re welcome Jennifer and thank you. I think what bugs me with natural hair is that its really not about the hairstyle i.e how you style it but the texture of the hair. Glad to hear that your workplace is more accepting though. We need more of that everywhere 🙂

  3. Love this! Thank you for sharing and thank you for your personal insight!💛

    I live in the very livable part of the US, but I think certain jobs would care about your hairstyle more than others, maybe more corporate jobs?

    • Diana
      October 31, 2018

      Yeah, corporate jobs may require more formal hairstyles. Its the same here especially if the job is formal.

      The natural hair debate is more about texture and not hairstyles. Natural hair, in this case, is basically African hair that hasn’t been chemically straightened to alter its texture to make it appear like the hair that other races have. That is where the issue lies but things are slowly changing ❤

  4. ChrissiReads
    October 30, 2018

    I really enjoyed reading this! Wonderful review. 🙂

    • Diana
      October 31, 2018

      Thank you Chrissi ❤

  5. anovelglimpse
    October 31, 2018

    I love books that are snippets of people’s lives. This one sounds so good! Great review!

    • Diana
      October 31, 2018

      Thank you Deanna. This was such an amazing read 🙂

  6. Norrie
    October 31, 2018

    What an awesome post!
    And you are rocking all your hairstyles 🙂

    I don’t get this whole debate about professional vs not professional hairstyle.As in, why is this still a thing?
    With that hair hierarchy quote in mind, based on my hair, i should be one of the overlords in the office, but unfortunately my bosses haven’t recognized my hair powers yet 😀 LOL.

    • Diana
      October 31, 2018

      haha, I seriously think that you are my kindred spirit, Norrie. I like how you think. I hope your bosses will come to recognize your potential someday 😀

      And yes, its sad that the debate even exists. Its just wrong on all levels.

      Thank you for the compliment ❤

      • Norrie
        October 31, 2018

        Kindred spirit, yesss! ❤ 🙂

  7. Holly B / Dressedtoread
    October 31, 2018

    Fabulous post Diana! This sounds like a good one! ❤

    • Diana
      October 31, 2018

      It really is. Thanks Holly ❤

  8. Yvo
    October 31, 2018

    Wonderful insightful review! I really like the sound of this one.

  9. Laila@BigReadingLife
    November 1, 2018

    Great review, Diana. I actually have this as an e-book I bought cheap on Amazon. But it’s been sitting on my iPad FOREVER. I just don’t like reading on a screen. But I do want to read this! I think I’ll make it a goal for next year to read the e-books I have.

    • Diana
      November 2, 2018

      Hey Laila, I hope that you will get a chance to read it next year. It is entertaining but also quite powerful. Thank you 🙂

  10. Sucker For Coffee
    November 6, 2018

    Wonderful review Diana! Loved it.

  11. celly1989
    November 8, 2018

    I can’t wait to read this book! I am also a fan of Insecure, it is refreshing, funny and extremely entertaining so I look forward to checking her book out 🙂

    • Diana
      November 14, 2018

      I think you will love this book. Issa is amazing as a character and equally as a person too. Her character is influenced a lot by who she is in real life. I hope that you will get the chance to read this one soon.

      Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting 🙂

      • celly1989
        November 14, 2018

        No probs. Thank you 🙏 have a blessed day 😎

  12. Raney Simmon
    November 11, 2018

    Wonderful review of a memoir I feel like I could really learn a lot from.

    • Diana
      November 14, 2018

      Its really good, Raney. Thank you.

  13. Cozynookbks
    November 16, 2018

    How did I miss this one, Diana? Loved it!! Love your locks, too. 😉 I have naturally straight hair (no relaxer or texturizer). I’ve wanted to venture into the curly texture styles but it takes time to figure out what will work for your hair (the right products, etc.) AND your age, lol. 😆 I did try once and it was an epic fail. 🤦🏽‍♀️ I had some heat damage I think and needed to grow it out before attempting that again. But I will because I LOVE it.
    Thanks for this wonderful post!! 💕

  14. madamewinnell
    March 8, 2019

    Yasss to this Post! Let us always celebrate our natural hair no matter what! It is our crown. I recently wrote a blog post describing the most difficult thing about being a black female medical student. I hope you’ll have a chance to read.

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This entry was posted on October 30, 2018 by in Bookish Post.
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