Author: Candice Carty-Williams
Publication Date: 19 March 2019
Genre: Adult – Adult Fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah inthis disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that willspeak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something verydifferent in its place.
Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old JamaicanBritish woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatlyinto neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forcedto compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up fromher long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrongplaces…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brainspace and a bad job of affirming self-worth.
As Queenie careens from one questionable decisionto another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doingit? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in aworld trying to answer them for her.
With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes)prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of whatit means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.
I tore through this novel in less than 12 hours last weekend, and I am still trying to find actual coherent reflections on this book rather than just screaming at all of you about how amazing this book was. takes a very deep breath.
Queenie is a brilliantly executed novel that is witty, honest, raw, heartbreaking, political, and hopeful. Queenie endures so much throughout this book, but she doesn’t let any of it break her spirit.
When Queenie’s long-term boyfriend Tom decides that they need a “break”, Queenie decides to fill that void by engaging in lots of unsafe sex with people she barely knows. It is emphasized in the book that she has always choses white partners(the reason behind this is revealed later). The partners she chooses embrace exploit her “exotic” black girl features, but are quick to dismiss her for any sort of relationship potential (This hit me in the heart like a dagger. This is EXACTLY what I experienced in college.) This creates a vicious cycle for Queenie’s lovelife, which turn into utter chaos.
Queenie is a journalist for one of the most prominent newspapers in the UK (The DailyMail), but her boss only allows her to write the cookie cutter pieces that will please the viewers. Queenie is passionate about the increased protests surrounding the police brutality of black men and the Black Lives Matters movement in the United States, and she desperately wants to highlight this topic. However, she is silenced by her boss and peers whenever she approaches the subject, which makes her internal struggle at work even worse.
This book also broaches the taboo of discussing mental health issues within the black community. Whenever Queenie tries to confide in her grandmother and voice her potential need for therapy, her grandmother is completely dismissive. This definitely adds to Queenie’s downward trajectory.
I don’t want to give too much of the plot away because I really do think that this is one of those books that you have to experience those emotions for yourself. I read Queenie as if Queenie was myself. My 20s were an incredible dark time filled with misplaced love/lust, depression, racial identity crisis, a need for love and acceptance, loss of a loved one, and divorce. I felt her pain to the depths of my soul. This book will be one of those that I recommend to people not just because it’s eye opening and thought provoking but because it also describes so many pieces of me that I have never been able to put into words.
Thank you to Gallery Books for an advanced copy of this book. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
Candice Carty-Williams is a senior marketing executive at Vintage. In 2016, she created and launched the Guardian and 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize, which aims to find, champion, and celebrate underrepresented writers. She contributes regularly to i-D, Refinery29, BEAT Magazine, and more, and her pieces, especially those about blackness, sex, and identity, have been shared globally. Queenie is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Have you read Queenie? Is is on your TBR?