Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (4 out of 5)

I got an advance copy from Wendy at S&S. Thank you to her for sending what turned out to be a candid, refreshing read. I’m afraid that some might be turned off of the book because Queenie is no ordinary 25-year old character. She’s a Jamaican Brit who is incredibly insecure and lost in the woods when her longtime boyfriend Tom ends their relationship following “the incident” at his mom’s birthday party. Her boyfriend’s uncle uses a racial slur to refer to her, Queenie (rightfully) gets upset, and accidentally causes his mom’s cake to be destroyed. There’s so much outrage over this fucking cake that no one seems that upset that Queenie had this epitaph thrown at her. I was outraged, and I’m just a bystander sitting on the side with a book. Queenie confronts Tom over his seeming ambivalence toward what happened, and he so nicely suggests they take a “break”. You know, like Rachel suggested to Ross on Friends decades ago. Queenie is crushed but continues to hope it would blow over and Tom will come back. Her texting and somewhat whiny phletoras don’t help the cause at all, and he ends it. Queenie is devastated. Worse than that, she’s lost. She goes to her friend’s birthday party and gets drunk and let’s them set up an account for her on a dating site. Because isn’t that society’s answer for a broken heart in this day and age? Queenie is trying her best to move on, but her emotional, semi-dramatic heart won’t let her proceed with logic, but with bad behavior. She goes out with, and sleeps with, several dudes of ill repute, not using protection. If these aren’t acts of someone not handling a breakup well, I don’t know what are. While unsafe sex is an incredibly stupid thing to do, she’s clearly not in the right mind. She’s in her twenties and acting rashly, after someone ends something that she views as having happened because someone judged her by the color of her skin. Things are not going to go smoothly here. Queenie’s very emotional and those emotions overtake her logic, and she certainly says and does some eyebrow raising shit- in the name of love. Through flashbacks, we get to know the nature of her and Tom’s ill-fated romance. Tom, while not being much of a prize himself, still manages to show the reader that he brought some sunshine and stability to Queenie’s world. At least through Queenie’s eyes. I don’t get the feeling like she has to go and sleep with all these guys to get over Tom/prove she’s desirable, but who hasn’t been in some relationship that crushed them upon its end, leading to questionable behavior and actions from that behavior? I think we’ve all been there.

Queenie’s a budding journalist, although none of her work has been published. Nor taken seriously, due most likely to the color of her skin. She mentions more features on African American folks, but her Caucasian editor doesn’t take it seriously, and strikes it down. The implication is that race is an issue in him not giving credence to her ideas. Again, a very real thing that happens in the real world. I can, again, understand Queenie’s frustration with her job.

Queenie has her support system of close friends. As I said, they are the ones who set up the dating profile. They are also the ones who stand by her, tell her to get over Tom, and attempt to support her in her heartache. We all have support systems. I liked her friends, much more than that ex boyfriend Tom. I also liked the book, but I would tell you not to put a lot of stock in the comparison to Bridget Jones Diary. Queenie is a lot more emotionally dark throughout the book, but it makes her (and the book) more real by not sugarcoating her depression, her anxiety, her insecurity, and her true-to-life observations. I also enjoyed her witticisms, as they were. I think people bemoaning her for her choices and what may come off as whininess, truly missed the boat here. It was so refreshing to read a hard-hitting book about a young lady lost in the forest of what is society’s expectations not only of women, but women of color. It was also refreshing to read a book with an emotionally scarred young lady who just wants to be happy and find someone to love her. I wonder how many people have felt that way. I think those people are the ones who will see Queenie for who she truly is, and come to recognize her for her feisty spirit. I’m very happy to say I’m in that group. I feel bereft for those who did not feel that way. I would absolutely recommend this. Carty-Williams has a distinct, very real voice waiting to be heard. Hopefully, you are one lucky enough to hear it. This book is out now in hardcover from Gallery/Scout Press.

~ by generationgbooks on March 29, 2019.

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