Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Jayne Allen and Nancy Johnson Tackles Womanhood and Infertility in Conversation About Her New Book

September 30, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted


  • All registrants receive 10% off book purchase with code ‘EVENT’

Unfamiliar with using Crowdcast? Click GUIDE for new attendees.  
“Allen crafts an engaging and evenly plotted story of a woman who, after learning that she has only a limited window in which to have children, evaluates her relationships and personal aspirations…readers will readily connect with her search for fulfillment on her journey of self-discovery.” 
— The BookLife Prize Hailed as “both timely and enjoyable,” (Kirkus Reviews)
BLACK GIRLS MUST DIE EXHAUSTED by Jayne Allen is the first of three acclaimed novels previously self-published. This wildly commended series explores modern womanhood, in which a young Black woman must rely on courage, laughter, and love—and the support of her two longtime friends—to overcome an unexpected setback that turns her entire world upside down. This incredible novel explores universal themes with an honest and emotional accessibility that will leave readers aching in its wake. With strong, relatable female characters, incredibly entertaining writing, and a story that will pull on all the heartstrings, readers will be craving book two long before the last page. Tabitha Walker is a Black woman with a plan to “have it all.” At 33 years old, the checklist for the life of her dreams is well underway. Education? Check. Good job? Check. Down payment for a nice house? Check. Dating marriage material? Check, check, and check. With a coveted position as a local news reporter, a “paper-perfect” boyfriend, and even a standing Saturday morning appointment with a reliable hairstylist, everything seems to be falling into place. Then Tabby receives an unexpected diagnosis that brings her picture-perfect life crashing down, jeopardizing the keystone she took for granted: having children. With her dreams at risk of falling through the cracks of her checklist, suddenly she is faced with an impossible choice between her career, her dream home, and a family of her own. With the help of her best friends, the irreverent and headstrong Laila and Alexis, the mom jeans-wearing former “Sexy Lexi,” and the generational wisdom of her grandmother and the nonagenarian firebrand Ms. Gretchen, Tabby explores the reaches of modern medicine and tests the limits of her relationships, hoping to salvage the future she always dreamed of. But the fight is all consuming, demanding a steep price that forces an honest reckoning for nearly everyone in her life. As Tabby soon learns, her grandmother’s age-old adage just might still be true: Black girls must die exhausted.
Jayne Allen is the pen name of Jaunique Sealey, a graduate of Duke University and Harvard Law School. An avid traveler, she speaks three languages and has visited five continents. Drawing from her unique experiences as an attorney and entrepreneur, she crafts transcultural stories that touch upon contemporary women’s issues such as workplace and career dynamics, race, fertility, modern relationships and mental health awareness. Her writing echoes her desire to bring both multiculturalism and multidimensionality to a rich and colorful cast of characters inspired by the magic uncovered in everyday life. Black Girls Must Die Exhausted is her first novel which she calls “the epitaph of my 30s.” A proud native of Detroit, she currently lives in Los Angeles.
Jayne Allen’s Inspiration for Black Girls Must Die Exhausted “I knew that I wanted to write a story that gave authentic purpose to showcasing a black female protagonist.  I wanted it to be a story that she uniquely could tell based on the perspectives that come through the contemporary experience of gender and race.  Tabitha “Tabby” Walker became that person, a news reporter whose job it is to see the stories hidden in everyday life, and who is dealing with several unique challenges within her own family—the one she was born into and the family she was hoping to create. I felt that it would be an exciting challenge to craft a story about an infertility experience that many women face, but few discuss, and to see how it is further complicated when you add on the layer of race.  I also wanted to explore the other ways that we as women might define ourselves, through our professional success, romantic relationships, and friendships, and to see what happens when we’re forced to make choices that throw off the delicate balance that we try so hard to create.  And further, who we are when we simply stop saying “I’m fine” and start telling the truth. My absolute favorite part of the writing process was crafting and developing the depth and detail of the characters and the perspectives they would lend to the shaping of the story.  My idea of a great adventure is to explore the inner worlds of everyday people to find the incredible textures that make us each unique and beautiful.  And in my female characters especially, I like to find and highlight the internal superhero that we don’t give ourselves enough credit for.  I spend a lot of time on dialogue as a way to showcase each character’s personality and I try to push for the words and conversations that are just beyond the courage that we can normally access in a given moment.  My most difficult and anticipated scene to write was between Tabby and her grandmother, a white woman who married a black man in the segregation era, in which they asked each other what it felt like to be the race they were.  It was so deeply moving to me to first establish the overwhelming love and intimacy of that relationship and then to create this sacred space between them to share difficult, personal details that might have never otherwise been voiced. The book itself is meant to be a journey for the reader, a stage for the theme of the big, provocative title, Black Girls Must Die Exhausted, to play out in three acts. First as an acknowledgement, then an exploration, and finally a celebration and inspirational call to adventure.  It is my hope that the warmth of the story reaches beyond the boundaries of the pages themselves and feels like a personal virtual reality. My goal is for Black Girls Must Die Exhausted to become an ever-evolving collaboration of culture, community, fellowship, healing, and imperative conversations that we’re all just beginning to learn how to hold space for.”
A native of Chicago’s South Side, Nancy Johnson worked for more than a decade as an Emmy-nominated, award-winning television journalist at CBS and ABC affiliates in markets nationwide. Her debut novel, The Kindest Lie, has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Entertainment Weekly. It’s been named one of the most anticipated books of 2021 by Newsweek, O, the Oprah Magazine, Shondaland, NBC News, Marie Claire, ELLEThe Chicago TribuneThe New York PostGood Housekeeping, Parade, Refinery29, and more. Booksellers nationwide selected her novel as an Indie Next pick and librarians chose it for LibraryReads. Nancy’s work has been published in Real Simple and O, The Oprah Magazine. A graduate of Northwestern University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she lives in downtown Chicago and manages brand communications for a large nonprofit. 

It’s 2008, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and was forced to leave behind—when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past.

Returning home, Ruth discovers the Indiana factory town of her youth is plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair. As she begins digging into the past, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. Just as Ruth is about to uncover a burning secret her family desperately wants to keep hidden, a traumatic incident strains the town’s already searing racial tensions, sending Ruth and Midnight on a collision course that could upend both their lives.

Powerful and revealing, The Kindest Lie captures the heartbreaking divide between Black and white communities and offers both an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.


September 30, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Categories:
Event Tags:
, , , , , ,