QUEENIE by Candice Carty-Williams

From the Jacket

Meet Queenie Jenkins: Journalist.  Catastrophist.  Expressive.  Aggressive.  Dramatic.  Loved.  Lonely.  Relatable.  Her boyfriend has asked her to leave their apartment.  Her boss doesn’t seem to see her.  Her Jamaican British family doesn’t seem to hear her.  Her best friends try to help her.  The series of men she meets online treat her hideously… and yet, she doesn’t stop seeing them.  Queenie is in a spiral.  But what makes this breathtaking debut novel so fresh is that this is a spiral mostly of Queenie’s own making.  The world isn’t happening to her, doing her wrong.  Instead, as Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, as we all do these days, “What are you doing?  Why are you doing it?  Who do you want to be?”

My Thoughts

Any book that starts with a trip to the gynecologist which somehow manages to be both hilarious and moving will automatically suck me in!  QUEENIE by Candice Carty-Williams has made quite the splash, especially in the UK; any debut novel that’s up for the Women’s Prize is certain to pique my interest, so of course I had to give it a go!

QUEENIE has been described as Bridget Jones meets AMERICANAH, a description that could not be more spot on!  As a young black woman living in London and struggling with her career, her love life, and her self image, Queenie faces a multitude of racial and ethnic dilemmas.  She deals with the challenges of a modern interracial relationship, with online dating men who have a fetish for black women, with strangers touching her hair as they please, and with white relatives who are confused why the n-word offends her.  QUEENIE is full of Black Lives Matter references as well as pop culture references, from Friends to Dua Lipa to Urban Dictionary, which, of course, makes it feel incredibly modern.

“The road to recovery is not linear.  It’s not straight.  It’s a bumpy path, with lots of twists and turns.”

Queenie’s main conflict is her mental health journey.  I really appreciate Candice Carty-Williams’ dedication to portraying a realistic mental health struggle.  Much of Queenie’s trauma stems from her childhood, an area of her life which could’ve been further explored to really pull everything together, but Carty-Williams certainly goes deep in exploring Queenie’s toxic relationships with men, her trust and commitment issues, and even her lack of motivation in the workplace.

QUEENIE is a subtle, light-hearted, humorous novel that still packs a serious punch,  Disguised as a funny, flitty romp, QUEENIE is a serious tale of a 20-something woman facing a dangerous turning point in her life, with a cup of identity crisis, a teaspoon of unhealthy relationships, and a pinch of Black Lives Matter.  It’s a quick, fun, and inspiring read that I’m pleased to see get so much recognition.

Further Reading

“‘Queenie’ is So Much More Than a Black ‘Bridget Jones'” by Afua Hirsch, TIME

10 Comments

  1. Literary Elephant

    Great review, I’m glad you found so much to like about this one! I didn’t love it quite as much as I thought I would but did mostly enjoy the read. I’m glad it found its way to the Women’s Prize list this year! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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