I literally couldn’t put this down! Queenie is one of those books that you open, read the first page and then know instantly that you are going to be up all night reading it. This book has so much going for it: brilliantly written, relatable and lovable characters, family dynamics, messy break-ups, and a story line that so many of us can relate to. It also has the added depth of having a main character who is Black (of Jamaican decent) and deals with many of the daily micro-aggressions, full on aggressions, stereotypes and racism that Black women deal with.
Queenie is 25, works for a newspaper which she had considered her dream job when she landed it a few years before, and is on “a break” that was not of her choosing with her boyfriend. She’s dealing with what she calls her “issues” on top of the “break”, leading her to make some sometimes stupid, sometimes strange, and all-around unhealthy choices in dating, sex, and life in general. I love Queenie, her reactions to what life throws at her are similar to what mine were in my 20’s and early 30’s, and while I cringed a few times at some of her choices, it was mainly because I was cringing at my own. I got her. Queenie is very real to me.
This book has been advertised as similar to Bridget Jones, but apart from the single woman living in London thing that’s where the similarities end. Queenie deals with 20 something life, relationships, friendships, finances (or lack of), and job worries. But it also deals with childhood trauma, anxiety, mental breakdowns, and cultural, and intergenerational trauma. And it also hits on so many stereotypical actions and reactions on the part of (British) white people. I think the novel does a good job of sending a message that the US may top the charts in systemic racism, but it’s very much prevalent in the UK too.
I also loved Queenie’s group of friends. As someone who always tried to bring my girlfriends together as a group I totally related to why Queenie would do that, and I love how they are supportive, fun, caring, and hilarious. Despite the deep, and sometimes dark, themes of the book, humor is a huge part of it and you will laugh out loud more than a few times.
The only thing that I found a little surprising was that there was so much US English slang in the book. I haven’t been back to England (my home country) for a few years, but I did wonder if it was written specifically for a US public at times. It wasn’t bothersome though, just surprising.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but I do want to say that this book is a brightly shining gem. And I cannot wait to see what Candice Carty-Williams comes up with next, because I fell in love with her writing, style, and insight.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!