Book review: You can’t touch my hair

No lie, I got this book only for the cover. Yes, I am the kind of person that is a victim of Marketing. Especially when it is really well done 😀


A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.

Phoebe Robinson is a stand-up comic, which means that, often, her everyday experiences become points of comedic fodder. And as a black woman in America, she maintains, sometimes you need to have a sense of humor to deal with the absurdity you are handed on the daily. Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she’s been unceremoniously relegated to the role of « the black friend, » as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she’s been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel (« isn t that . . . white people music? »); she’s been called « uppity » for having an opinion in the workplace; she’s been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she’s ready to take these topics to the page and she s going to make you laugh as she s doing it.

Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is « Queen. Bae. Jesus, » to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, « 2 Dope Queens, » to the top spot on iTunes. As personal as it is political, « You Can’t Touch My Hair » examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humor and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise. »

My opinion:

I expected way more from this book. Maybe its my fault for setting the bar high for this book. Its a cute book with modern references and a a collection of essays regarding her experience. It is not a self help kind or a motivational book. I quickly understood that form the audio book, as Phoebe was « acting her book », which annoyed me as it sounded fake.

I never heard of Phoebe Robinson before this book. It turns out that she is a young writer, feminist, activist and a stand-up comedian.. Which is a bummer as the tone of the book feels forced and not natural at all. It makes sense in a way as she is a blogger, a stand-up comedian. And writing a book is a whole other story.

I loved how she was telling her story. This book is a retelling of how she became a stand-up comedian and how was her podcast born. The thing is, « You cant touch my hair » is presented as an educational book, about race aimed to the white people in america. Yet throughout the chapters there are inconsistencies as she mentions that there are some stuff people wont get and its normal. We are basically lost! I personally don’t know what was the insight that I was supposed to get from this book and what lesson did Phoebe want to share with me as a reader.

« You can’t touch my hair » is an essay full of emotional and intelligent sections and others that were too « calm » and void of learnings. Minds will not be changed by reading this book, I found myself nodding along sometimes, even smirking but that’s it. I wish she made this book more inclusive instead of only targeting the African american community. As a Moroccan with curly hair, I related to so many events she experienced and I am pretty sure many people worldwide would as well, as hair issues are common for us.

I could relate to some of her experience, the hairdresser situations and straightening ones, the comments from random people in the professional environment… I love how she explained the various hairstyles, their origins and how they are perceived in nowadays society. Honestly this book starts with a bang yet with time we lose interest. For each chapter I was genuinely wondering « what else? ». The rhythm of the book was slowing down and you lose interest as soon as you hit the half of the book mark.

Her final chapters with the letters written to her niece were the best of the books, with the hair parts 😀 I loved how she addressed many issues there and wish the book was more like that as they felt genuine and authentic.

All in all, I finished the book and I felt frustrated. I would recommend it for a day at the beach or just as a quick read, nothing else. I’ll maybe watch her stand-up show 😀