book review: Bitch is the New Black

Title: Bitch is the New Black
Author: Helena Andrews
ISBN: 978-0061778827
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
Category: memoir
Review source: publisher
Rating: 4/5

I’m a bitch. I’m white. I’m a WASP from Boston. Mostly I’m jealous when I keep reading memoirs such as Bitch is the New Black— about the challenges of being a single professional [although many would think that’s a stretch for me as I’m not that successful]. Why haven’t I yet written a memoir about all the miserable men in my life? When I read a memoir such as Bitch is the New Black by Helena Andrews it motivates me to get writing. Oh and if you aren’t already jealous of Washington D.C.-based reporter/writer Helena Andrews, Bitch is the New Black has already been optioned by Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice producer/writer Shondra Rhimes.

You certainly don’t have to be black to relate to this memoir. How ridiculous would that be? Helena writes about when the Congressional Black Caucus meets in D.C. [The CBC is to single-black-chick Washington as Fleet Week is to single-white-gal New York. Seamen? How ‘bout degreed men!]—to her lesbian mother—walking her “racist” dog through the sketchier areas of DC [The dregs of LeDroit Park hang around the busted-up concrete slabs that make for a sidewalk outside. I won’t assume these men push “product” for a living, but, well, they wear puffy black coats in summertime.]—how being an educated black woman can often be a huge roadblock to establishing a serious long-term relationship to a guy—why work can be more rewarding than dating—to her best friend’s decision to only date white men–and other much more observant and timeless topics.

I’d spent the last thirty days doing everything to prove myself worthy of calling this jackass my boyfriend. When Dex called me at 3:00 a.m. wanting to talk about nothing in particular [but really everything indefinable], I answered the phone [which had been waiting impatiently beneath my pillow]. When Dex wanted dinner, I cooked as if I hadn’t ordered the No. 17 from Sala Thai for the last six days in a row. When his number showed up on my BlackBerry in the middle of a Tuesday [ice cream at the Lincoln Memorial!], I slapped an end quote on the ass of another boring story and ran outside to meet him. I even had an “in case of Dex” bag under my desk at work [mascara, thongs, Burt’s Bees, invisible solid]. I washed his dishes when mine nurtured micro universes at home. I did his laundry while going pantyless by necessity. I gently lectured him on fiscal responsibility while waiting in line at ACE Check Cashing and Pay Day Loans.

All jealousies aside, Bitch is the New Black provides yet another stand-out memoir by a strong, opinionated, independent woman who has achieved monumental professional success but by society’s standards hasn’t yet hit her stride on the personal front. And does that matter at 30? Sure, even the most intelligent women resort to embarrassing ridiculous and oft-demeaning behavior around men. Try getting to 40 and realizing that BOTH one’s personal and professional lives are hot messes. Andrews’s writing is bright, refreshing and Bitch is the New Black is chocked full of entertaining anecdotes and vivid descriptions. Definitely add it to your reading list.

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