Tajja Isen explores the absurdity of living in a world that has grown fluent in the language of social justice but doesn't always follow through. These nine essays explore the sometimes troubling and often awkward nature of that discord. Some of My Best Friends takes on the cartoon industry's pivot away from colorblind casting, the pursuit of diverse representation in the literary world, the law's refusal to see inequality, and the cozy fictions of nationalism. Isen deftly examines the quick, cosmetic fixes society makes to address systemic problems, and reveals the unexpected ways they can misfire.
Isen covers loaded topics in a light-hearted way that breaks down the history of how society has gotten to a point where empty words have taken the place of 'doing the work.' She provides personal anecdotes and experiences, and most importantly, points the finger back at us, reminding the reader of the subtle ways we too can be at fault for doing a whole lot of preaching, but not putting it into practice for change.
Isen’s debut essay collection reveals her as a multihyphenate talent—voice actor, singer, editor, writer, law school graduate—with a delicious knack for wordplay and language ... The strongest essay, which lends its name to the book’s title, examines the relationship white women have to power and pain ... A central weakness of the book: It already feels dated. Scanning the table of contents feels like reading a list of Twitter’s most popular trending topics from 2020. In the churn of the modern news cycle, it seems inevitable that not every moment referenced would have cultural staying power, but it’s especially frustrating when Isen chooses intentionally ephemeral data points ... She admits to 'keeping an eye on the writers at the vanguard, seeing what kind of behavior gets rewarded,' and that’s reflected in the originality of Some of My Best Friends’ content—but it’s Isen’s original perspective and clever language that will win over readers.