Nail It

Breaking into the Black Elite

Fiction - Urban
348 Pages
Reviewed on 07/10/2015
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite

Nail It: Breaking into the Black Elite (A Novel) by Shonette Charles is a good read that revolves around the black fraternity. Noah and Sahara are well educated and when they move to North Carolina, it gives them the opportunity to make a breakthrough into the social circle of black society. They are the elite of black society, holding memberships in the Darlings, the Shield, and many other groups that add to their status. Though Noah adjusts well to society and glamour, Sahara struggles to find a footing in a world of sophistication and money. Reeking with double standards and lies, surviving in that society can actually be hard. Will Noah and Sahara be able to strike a balance and be happy?

The book captures the essence of urban society and the elegance and chic elements are well described. The characters of Noah and Sahara have been realistically sketched and the story reveals much about the lifestyle of elite black society. The book is descriptive and there is a bit of explicit language, but it's essential for readers to comprehend the aura of pedigree, success and wealth. The author keeps up the fluidity and pace of the plot from beginning to end, making it an engaging story. The story is light and breezy and readers will enjoy its sophistication, pace and glamour. The excellent cover design will grab readers' attention as it connects well with the inside contents.

K T Bowes

Nail It by Shonette Charles documents the social climbing journey of Sahara and Noah Kyle, both of good pedigree with the right qualifications and backgrounds, attempting to break into the black elite scene of North Carolina. The novel starts with news of Noah’s new job as a high ranking executive, the only black man in a position this elevated. Everything he does is part of a carefully manicured plan to break into the closed circle of successful people of colour in the town; the big house, the expensive car and the right set of associates and friends. Without realising it, Noah is following a pre-determined plan for success, labelled by a prominent local socialite as ‘NAIL IT’.

His wife, Sahara is struggling. Looking for fulfilment, she considers returning to work, finding being a housewife in a new town difficult. The social scene appears like an impregnable wall and she is consumed in the process of engineering meetings with ‘connected’ people, attending the ‘right’ kind of parties and associating with only the top echelons of the black elite. But Sahara has enemies who hide behind masks and her journey is a rocky one. Having dedicated a year of her life working towards securing seats for her and Noah at the coveted Sphynx Ball, Sahara is given cause to look back and consider it lost time she can no longer retrieve. Social climbing has become her life’s work but, with enemies in high places, it will take an unexpected friend with higher standing to lift her from the mire of failure and obscurity.

The concept of Chapters and Sororities in this novel is a foreign one to someone not familiar with America’s social or educational system. There’s a need for the reader to allow the language, titles and sense of class to simply digest while they read. It came as a shock to discover that such a world existed behind the smiling doors of the American elite and the novel contains a painful reminder that prejudice and racism exist even within the confines of locked and barred, so called ‘black social circles’. In Nail It, Shonette Charles does a fantastic job of bringing this undocumented world to life, through characters who have all the spite and warped world views as those in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. Sahara’s journey is glass strewn and the reader walks it with her. There’s a sense of exhaustion as we plough through social etiquette and hanker after invitations which don’t come.

The novel is well written, managing to carry even this reader through unfamiliar territory to its conclusion, tripping over long and confusing names for groups of people who bark like dogs in greeting. It’s certainly a strange and bizarre world. The theme of connection is consistent throughout, filtering through each scene with regularity and strength. There is a definite aftertaste of dramatic irony, for as Sahara Kyle makes connections and temporarily disregards them as unsuitable, those are the very ones which will keep hold of her and allow her success. This novel was a precious insight into a black social scene into which the average white reader will never be invited. A sense of futility permeates every word of the novel as good, upstanding and successful black professionals mimic a dreadful, outdated white social world which is disgusting in its superiority. The reader will appreciate the letting go of the ladder, which both Sahara and Kyle experience, and the sense of resolution it brings. They find their own level and it provides for a magnificent ending.

Faridah Nassozi

In Nail It - Breaking into the Black Elite by Shonette Charles, after Sahara's husband Noah got a job in North Carolina, the family had to move to Fairchester. Sahara knew that moving to a new city was going to be a big change for them, but she had no idea what an understatement that was. After settling into their new home, the next task was to break into the black elite groups which would set them on their way up the social ladder. However, this task was a lot harder than either of them could have imagined and yet Noah was anxious to make the right connections that would set them up in the social scene. The stress of this even started to put a strain on their usually harmonious marriage. Then just when they seemed to be making good progress, long hidden secrets from the past threatened to undo everything.

Nail It - Breaking into the Black Elite by Shonette Charles is an interesting tale about a complex social set up made up exclusively of elite black circles and what it really took to get inside the bubble. Shonette Charles created this odd place where your social connections meant more than anything else; where who you knew socially was everything that mattered. However, she managed to make this peculiar place feel real. I was especially fascinated by the complexities of breaking into these exclusive black circles. It was a truly unique plot and following Sahara's story as she tried to find her footing in this super complex social scene was an exciting venture.