RaveThe New York TimesThe essays in Savala Nolan’s first collection, Don’t Let It Get You Down, unfold out of her complex relationship with being a big-bodied, mixed-race Black woman ... Nolan is a law professor at Berkeley who clerked in the Obama administration’s office of White House counsel; but these 12 essays are concerned less with her legal career than with her origin story and personal development ... Nolan is writing into a long tradition, and its contemporary renaissance ... This embrace of the heterogeneity of Black womanhood is part of this book’s charm. Another part is the author’s voice — vulnerable, but rarely veering into self-indulgence ... Don’t Let It Get You Down dances in the spaces between binaries of Black womanhood.
MixedThe Chicago Tribune... as much as this is an admirable account of Kelly’s inexplicable appeal, the city too busy to punish him, the black women advocates who refused to give up on our society’s moral debt, and the victims who bear its costs, this is a book about journalism ... When DeRogatis commits to the \'investigative critic\' voice that offers that weighty truism, the book adds color to a story many of us feel we know all too well. His character study of Robert Kelly is a brutal corrective to R. Kelly’s myth: that he is a troubled soul who used his God-given talents to make himself over into a sexy, sophisticated auteur who seduced an entire culture into forgiving the peccadillos of an artist whose art demands he live beyond society’s moral boundaries ... The investigative critic voice so strong in some chapters would have lent much to others, where it is absent. From the outset the author is self-conscious and sometimes self-aware about what it means for a white guy to be working, so doggedly, the case against a celebrity black man ... He does a fine job of establishing trust with even a mildly sympathetic reader. Still, there are major turns in the book where it is clear that DeRogatis has a well-informed opinion, but he does not always trust his readers enough to share it. He couches it in a naïve observer voice that is as hard to believe as the cliché that precedes many of these instances in the book.