The title of this sardonic essay collection - Bitch Is the New Black: A Memoir - refers to the phrase coined by Tina Fey during a Saturday Night Live monologue defending Hillary Clinton. That Helena Andrews is black adds a spin to the catchphrase; it resonates with her sense of what it's like to be boxed into a stereotypical category.
She writes of Michelle Obama, "Despite the fact that the most recognizable woman in the United States is black, popular culture still hasn't moved past the only adjective apparently meant to describe us-'strong.'"
Andrews, a successful political journalist, explores the difficulties of trying to attain success, both professional and personal. As the beneficiaries of the feminist movement and the black civil-rights movement, Andrews and her friends find themselves in a position their mothers and grandmothers had not deemed possible-financially independent, well educated, and professionally successful-but the men have not kept up. In her opening essay, Andrews details a mind-gamey instant-messaging session with an on-and-off boyfriend, which leads her into a compelling analysis, replete with country-wide stats, on the complications of looking for a husband. "While our women were snatching up college degrees and busting up glass ceilings, our men were getting snatched up and busted," she writes. Although the story of the professional single girl has been written before, Andrews' combination of personal anecdote and analysis of success and race makes her tales unique. And at the same time, her exploration of gender in America is one surely any woman can relate to.